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TRULY CHRISTIAN MERCHANTS,
CITIZENS OF LONDON.
As my disease, and the restraint of rulers, seem to tell me that my pulpit-work is at an end, so also my abode among you, or in this world, cannot be long. What work I have lived for I have given the world more durable notice than transient words; it hath been such as men in power were against, and it seems, will no longer endure. What doctrine it was that I last prepared for you, I thought meet to desire the press thus to tell you ; not to vindicate myself, nor to characterise them who think that it deserves six months' imprisonment, but to be in your hands a provocation and direction for that great work of a christian life, sincerely done, will prepare you for that safety, joy, and glory, which London, England, or earth, will not afford, and which men or devils cannot take from you. When through the meritorious righteousness of Christ, your holy love and good works to him in his brethren shall make you the joyful objects of that sentence, “ Come ye blessed, inherit the kingdom,” &c.; this is the life that need not be repented of, as spent in vain.
Dear friends, in this farewell I return you my most hearty thanks for your extraordinary love and kindness to myself, much more for your love to Christ, and to his servants, who have more needed
relief. God is not unjust to forget your work and labour of love. You have visited those that others imprisoned, and fed those that others brought into want;
and when some ceased not to preach for our affliction, it quenched not your impartial charity. It has been an unspeakable mercy unto me almost all my days, (when I received nothing from them,) to have known so great a number as I have done, of serious, humble, holy, charitable Christians, in whom I saw that Christ hath an elect, peculiar people, quite different from the brutish, proud, hypocritical, malignant, unbelieving world! . O how sweet hath the familiarity of such been to me, whom the ignorant world hath hated ! Most of them are gone to Christ, I am following: we leave you here to longer trial : it is like you have a bitter cup to drink, but be faithful to the death, and Christ will give you the crown of life. The word of God is not bound, and the Jerusalem above is free, where is the general assembly of the first-born, an innumerable company of angels, the spirits of the just made perfect, with Christ their glorified head. The Lord guide, bless, and preserve you.
HOW TO DO GOOD TO MANY;
PUBLIC GOOD IS THE CHRISTIAN'S LIFE.
GAL. vi. 10.
As we have, therefore, opportunity, let us do good to all men,
especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Good is an epithet of the highest signification of any in human language. Some think the name of God is thence derived. Greatness and wisdom are equally his attributes, but goodness is the completion, and sweetest to the creature. propriateth it to God to be good, that is, essentially, primarily, and perfectly, and universally communicative ; when it is said that God is love, the sense is the same, that he is the infinite, essential, and efficiently and finally amiable, perfect good.
But though no one of his attributes in propriety and perfection are communicable, (else he that hath one part of the Deity must have all,) yet he imprinteth his similitude and image on his works; and the impress of his love and goodness is the chief part of his image on his saints; this is their very holiness ; for this is the chief part of their likeness to God, and dedication to him ; when the Spirit of sanctification is described in Scripture, as given upon believing, it signifieth, that our faithful perception of the redeeming, saving love of God in Christ, is that means which the Spirit of Christ will bless, to the operating of the habit of holy love to God and man, which becomes a new and divine nature to the soul, and is sanctification itself, and the true principle of a holy, evangelical conversation. And as it is said of God, that he is good, and doth good, so every thing is inclined to work as it is; Christ tells us the good tree will bring forth good fruits, &c.; and we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God hath ordained, that we should walk in them. (Eph. ii. 10.)
Yet man doth not good as the sun shineth, by a full bent of natural necessitation, else the world would not be as it is; but as a free, undetermined agent, which hath need to be commanded by a law, and stirred up by manifold motives and exhortations; such as the Holy Ghost here useth in the text.
Where, 1. Doing good is the substance of the duty. 2. Men are the objects. 3. To all men is the extent. 4. Especially to them of the household of faith is the direction for precedency. 5. And while we have opportunity is the season, including a motive to make haste. So large and excellent a theme would require more than my allotted time to handle it fully, therefore, I shall now confine myself to the duty extended, “Do good to all men.'
Doct. To do good to all men is all men's duty, to which every Christian especially must apply himself.
All men should do it: true Christians can do it, through grace, and must do it, and will do it. A good man is a common good; Christ's Spirit in them is not a dead or idle principle. It makes them in their several measures the salt of the earth, and the lights of the world ; they are fruitful branches of the true vine. Every grace tendeth to well-doing, and to the good of the whole body, for which each single member is made. Even hypocrites, as wooden legs, are serviceable to the body, but every living member much more, except some diseased ones, who may be more troublesome and dangerous than the wooden leg. It is a sign he is a branch cut off and withered who careth little for any but himself. The malignant diabolist hateth the true and spiritual good; the ignorant know not good from evil; the erroneous take evil for good, and falsehood for truth; the slothful hypocrite wisheth much good, but doth but little; the formal, ceremonious hypocrite extols the name and image of goodness; the worldly hypocrite will do good if he can do it cheaply, without any loss or suffering to his flesh; the libertine hypocrite pleadeth Christ's, merits against the necessity of doing good, and looketh to be saved because Christ is good, though he be barren and ungodly; and some ignorant teachers have taught them to say, when they can find no true faith, repentance, holiness, or obedience in themselves, that it is enough to believe that Christ believed and repented for them, and was holy and obedient for them. He was, indeed, holy and obedient for penitent believers; not to make holiness and obedience unnecessary to them, but to make them sincerely holy and obedient to himself, and to excuse them from the necessity of that perfect