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and bear me witness whether thou wilt or not: and this book which thou hast read, which I intended for thy conversion and salvation, shall be a witness against thee: though age or fire consume the leaves and lines of it, yet God and conscience shall bring it to thy memory, and thou shalt then be the more confounded to think what reasons and earnest persuasions thou didst reject in so plain, so great and necessary a case.
But if the Holy Ghost will now become thy tutor, and at once both put this book into thy hand, and his heavenly light into thy understanding, and his life into thy heart, and effectually persuade thee to resolve and turn, how happy wilt thou be to all eternity? Make no more words on it; but answer my request, as thou wouldst do if thou wert in a burning fire, and I entreated thee to come out. Thou hast long enough grieved Christ and his Spirit, and long enough grieved thy friends and teachers: resolve this hour, and rejoice them that thou hast grieved; and now grieve the devil, that thou hast hitherto rejoiced; and hereafter grieve the wicked, and thy own deceitful flesh, whose sinful desires thou hast hitherto followed: and if thou also grieve thyself a little while, by that moderate sorrow that sin hath made necessary for thee, it will be but a preparative to thy endless joys, and the day is promised, and coming apace, when satan that thou turnest from, shall trouble thee no more, and God that thou turnest to, shall wipe away all tears from thy eyes. And if the reading of this book may be but a means of so blessed an end, as God shall have the glory, so when "Christ cometh to be glorified in his saints, and admired of all them that do believe," (2 Thess. i. 10.) both thou and I shall then partake of the communication of his glory; if so be that I be sincere in writing, and thou and I sincere in obeying the doctrine of this book. Amen.
July 5, 1657.
END OF DIRECTIONS AND PERSUASIONS TO CONVERSION.
WEAK, DISTEMPERED CHRISTIANS,
GROW UP TO A CONFIRMED STATE OF GRACE.
OPENING THE LAMENTABLE EFFECTS OF THEIR WEAKNESSES AND DISTEMPERS.
PUBLISHED ALSO TO FURTHER THAT REPENTANCE, WHICH WARS, AND PLAGUES, AND FLAMES, AND CHURCH-CONVULSIONS HAVE SO LONG AND LOUDLY PREACHED
To my dearly beloved, the Church of Christ at Kidderminster in Worcestershire.
I SUPPOSE you do not only remember, that ten years ago I preached these sermons to you; but also what schisms, what revilings of the ministers of Christ, what heresies of Ranters, Seekers, and others; what cruelties against one another, and what remorseless overturnings of government; and worst of all, what bold appeals to God himself, as if he were the approver of all this, did give you and me extraordinary occasions of such thoughts and lamentations as are here expressed? But though the great mercy of God did preserve yourselves from these transgressions, and made it your lot to behold them with daily complaints and sorrows, yet I must not so flatter you as to say, that the ordinary weaknesses of Christians are not at all among you. The things which I especially loved in you, I will freely praise, which were, A special measure of humility; a plain simplicity in religion; a freedom from the common errors; a readiness to receive the truth; a catholic temper, without addictedness to any sect; a freedom from schism, and separating ways, and a unity and unanimity in religion; a hatred and disowning of the usurpations, and perturbations, and rebellions against the civil government, and an open bearing of your testimonies in all these cases; together with seriousness in religion, and sober, righteous, charitable, and godly conversations. But yet, with all this, which is truly amiable, I know you have your frailties and imperfections. weaker sort of Christians (either in knowledge or in holiness) are the greater number in the best congregation that I ever yet knew. (To say nothing of the unsound.) And what may be your case these eight years since I have been separated from your presence, I cannot tell, though, through the mercy of God, I hear not of your declining. It is our sin which hath parted us asunder, let us lay the blame upon ourselves; I have now done expecting my ancient comforts in labouring among you any more. For these six years'
time, in which I thought my great experience had made me more capable of serving my Master better than before, his wisdom and justice have caused me to spend in grievous silence. And now my decays and disability of body are so much increased, that if I had leave, I have not strength, nor can ever reasonably expect it; therefore, once more I am glad to speak to you as I may, and shall be thankful if Authority will permit these instructions to come to your view, that the weak may have some more counsel and assistance. And if any shall miscarry, and disgrace religion, there may remain on record one more testimony, what doctrine it was that you were taught. The Lord be your teacher, and your strength, and save you from yourselves, and from this present evil world, and preserve you to his heavenly kingdom, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
October 31, 1668.