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Wherein the various kinds, ufes, caufes, effects and reme dies thereof are diftinctly opened and prefcribed, for the relief and encouragement of all thofe that fear God in thefe doubtful and distracting times.
To the Right Worshipful Sir JOHN HARTOP, Knight and Baronet.
MONG all the creatures God hath made (devils only excepted) man is the most apt and able to be his own tormentor; and of all the scourges with which he lasheth and afflicteth both his mind and body, none is found fo cruel and intolerable as his own fears. The worse the times are like to be, the more need the mind hath of fuccour and encouragement, to confirm and fortify it for hard encounters; but from the worst profpect, fear inflicts the deepest and most dangerous wounds upon the mind of man, cutting the very nerves of its paffive fortitude and bearing ability.
The grief we fuffer from evil felt, would be light, and easy, were it not incenfed by fear; reafon would do much, and religion more, to demulce and lenify our forrows, did not fear betray the fuccours of both. And it is from things to come that this profpecting creature raiseth up to himself vaft hopes and fears: if he have a fair and encouraging profpect of ferene and profperous days, from the fcheme, and pofition of second caufes, hope immediately fills his heart with chearfulness, and difplays the fignals of it in his very face, anfwerable to that fair, benign afpect of things: but if the face of things to come, be threatening and inaufpicious, fear gains the afcendant over the mind; an unmanly, and unchriftian faintnefs pervades it, and, among the many other mifchiefs it inflicts, this is not the leaft, that it brings the evil of to-morrow VOL. IV. A
upon to-day, and fo makes the duties of to-day wholly unfer viceable to the evils of to-morrow; which is as much as if a man having an intricate, and difficult bufinefs cut out for the next day, which requires the utmost intention, both of his mind and body, and (haply) might be profperoufly managed, if both were duely prepared, fhould lie, all the night, reftlefs and difquieted about the event, torturing and fpending himself with his own prefaging fears, fo that when the day is come, and the bufinefs calls for him, his ftrength is no way equal to the bur den of it, but he faints, and fails under it.
There is indeed an excellent ufe that God makes of our fears, to ftimulate our flothful hearts, to greater vigilance and preparation for evils; and there is a mischievous ufe Satan makes of our fears, to caft us under defpondency and unbecoming pufillanimity and I reckon it one of the greatest difficulties of religion, to cut, by a thread, here, and fo to manage ourselves under threatning or doubtful providences, as to be touched with fo much fenfe of those approaching evils, as may prepare us to bear them; and yet to enjoy that conftancy and firmness of mind, in the worst times, that may answer the excellent principles we are profeffedly governed by.
These last times are certainly the moft perilous times; great things are yet to be acted upon the ftage of this world, before it be taken down; and the fcena antepenultima, latter-end, I say not the last, will be a tragedy. There is an ultima clades adhuc metuenda, a dismal flaughter of the witneffes of Chrift yet to be expected: the laft bite of the cruel beaft will be deadly, and if we flatter not ourselves, all things feem to be difpofing themfelves in the course of providence towards it.
But, Sir, If our union with Chrift be fure in itself, and fure to us also; if faith give us the daily visions and praelibations of the world to come, what well-compofed fpectators shall we be of these tragedies! Let things be toffed fufque, deque, and the
mountains caft into the midst of the fea, yet then Pfal. xlvi. the affured Chriftian may fing his fong upon Alamoth, A fong compofed for God's hidden ones. This fo poifeth and fteddies the mind, that we may enjoy the comfort and tranquillity of a refigned will, when others are at their wit's end.
With defign to promote this bleffed frame, in my own and others hearts, in thefe frightful times, I meditated, and now publish this fmall tract, to which a dear friend (from whom I have often had the fair idea and character of your excellent fpirit) hath occasioned the prefixing of your worthy name; I beg