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TO THE

POOR IN SPIRIT.

My dearly beloved fellow Christians, whose souls are taken up with the careful thoughts of attaining and maintaining peace with God, who are vile in your own eyes, and value the blood and Spirit, and word of your Redeemer, and the hope of the saints in their approaching blessedness, before all the pomp and vanities of this world, and resolve to give up yourselves to his conduct, who is become “ the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him;" for you do I publish the following directions, and to you it is that I direct this preface. The only glorious and infinite God, who made the worlds, and upholdeth them by his word, who is attended with millions of his glorious angels, and praised continually by his heavenly hosts; who pulleth down the mighty from their seats, and scattereth the proud in the imaginations of their hearts, and maketh his enemies lick the dust; to whom the kings and conquerors of the earth are as the most silly worms, and the whole world is nothing, and lighter than vanity, which he will shortly turn into flames before your eyes. This God hath sent me to you, with that joyful message, which needs no more but your believing entertainment, to make it sufficient to raise you from the dust, and banish those terrors and troubles from your hearts, and help you to live like the sons of God. He commandeth me to tell you, that he takes notice of your sorrows. He stands by when you see him not, and say, he hath forsaken you. He minds you with greatest tenderness, when you say, he hath forgotten you. He numbereth your sighs. He bottles up your tears. The groans of your heart do reach his own. He takes it unkindly, that you are so suspicious of him, and that all that he hath done for you in the work of redemption, and all the gracious workings of his Spirit on your souls, and all your own peculiar experiences of his goodness, can raise you to no higher apprehensions of his love! Shall not love be acknowledged to be love, when it is grown to a miracle? When it surpasseth comprehension! Must the Lord set up love and mercy in the work of redemption, to be equally admired with his omnipotency manifested in the creation ? And call forth the world to this sweet employment, that in secret and in public it might be the business of our lives ? And yet shall it be so overlooked or questioned, as if you lived without love and mercy in the world ? Providence doth its part, by heaping up mountains of daily mercies, and these it sets before your eyes. The Gospel hath eminently done its part by clear describing them, and fully assuring them, and this is proclaimed frequently in your ears. And yet is there so little in your hearts and mouths? Do you see, and hear, and feel, and taste mercy and love? Do you live wholly on it? And yet do you still doubt of it? and think so meanly of it, and so hardly acknowledge it? God takes not this well; but yet he considereth your frailty, and takes you not at the worst. He knows that flesh will play its part, and the remnants of corruption will not be idle. And the serpent will be suggesting false thoughts of God, and will be still striving most to obscure that part of his glory which is dearest to him, and especially which is most conjoined with the happiness of man. He knows also, that sin will breed sorrows and fears; and that man's understanding is shallow, and all his conceivings of God are exceeding low. And that we are so far from God as creatures, and so much further as sinners, and especially as conscious of the abuse of his graće, that there must needs follow such a strangeness as will damp and dull our apprehensions of his love. And such an abatement of our confidence, as will make us draw back, and look at God afar off. Seeing therefore that at this distance no full apprehensions of love can be expected, it is the pleasure of our Redeemer shortly to return, with ten thousands of his saints, with the noble army of his martyrs, and the attendance of his angels, and to give you such a convincing demonstration of his love, as shall leave no room for one more doubt. Your comforts are now but a taste, they shall be then a feast. They are now but intermittent, they shall be then continual. How soon now do your conquered fears return; and what an inconstancy and unevenness is there in our peace. But then our peace must needs be perfect and permanent, when we shall please God, and enjoy him in perfection to perpetuity.. Certainly, Christians, your comforts should be now more abundant, but that they are not ripe. It is that, and not this, that is your harvest. I have told you in another book, the mistake and danger of expecting too much here, and the necessity of looking and longing for that rest, if we will have peace indeed! But, alas, how hard is this lesson learned! Unbelievers would have happiness, but how fain would they have it in the creature rather than in God! Believers. would rather have their happiness in God than in the creature, but how fain would they have it without dying! And no wonder, for when sin brought in death, even grace itself cannot love it, though it may submit to it. But though churlish death do stand in our way, why look we not at the soul's admittance into rest, and the body's resurrection that must shortly follow? Doubtless that faith by which we are justified and saved, as it sits down on the word of truth as the present ground of its confident repose, so doth it thence look with one

eye
backward

and with the other forward on the crown. And if we well observe the Scrip

, ture descriptions of that faith, we shall find them as frequently magnifying it, and describing it from the latter, as from the former. As it is the duty and glory of faith to look back with thankful acknowledgment to a crucified Christ, and his payment of our ransom, so is it the duty and glory of that same justifying faith to look forward with desire and hope to the return of king Jesus, and the glorious celebration of the marriage of the Lamb, and the sentential justification, and the glorification of his saints. To believe these things unfeignedly which we never saw, nor ever spoke with man that did see, and to hope for them so really as to let go all present forbidden pleasures, and all worldly hopes

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and seeming happiness, rather than to hazard the loss of them. This is an eminent part of that faith by which the just do live, and which the Scripture doth own as justifying and saving. For it never distinguishes between justifying faith, as to their nature. It is therefore a great mistake of some to look only at that one eye of justifying faith which looks back upon the cross, and a great mistake of them on the other hand that look only at that eye of it which beholds the crown. Both Christ crucified, and Christ interceding, and Christ returning to justify and glorify, are the objects even of justifying, saving faith, most strictly so called. The Scripture oft expresseth the one only, but then it still implieth the other. The Socinians erroneously therefore from Heb. xi. where the examples and eulogies of faith are set forth, do exclude Christ crucified, or the respect to his satisfaction, from justifying faith, and place it in a mere expectation of glory. And others do as ungroundedly affirm, that is not the justifying act of faith which Heb xi, describeth, because they find not the cross of Christ there mentioned. For as believing in Christ's blood comprehendeth the end, even the’expectation of remission and glory merited by that blood, so the believing of that glory doth always imply that we believe and expect it as the fruit of Christ's ransom. It is for health and life that we accept and trust upon our physician. And it is for justification and salvation that we accept and trust on Christ. The salvation of our souls is the end of our faith. They that question whether we may believe and obey for our own salvation, do question whether we may go to the physician and follow his advice for health and life. Why then do you that are believers so much forget the end of your faith? And that for which it is that you believe? Believing in Christ for present mercies only, be they temporal or spiritual, is not the true believing, They are dangerously mistaken that think the thoughts of heaven to be so accidental to the nature and work of faith, is that they tend only to our comfort, and are not necessary to salvation itself. It is upon your apprehensions and expectations of that unseen felicity that both your peace and safety do depend. How.contrary therefore is it to the nature of a believer, to forget the place of his rest and consolation! And to look for so much of these from the creatures, in this our present pilgrimage and prison, as, alas, too

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commonly we do! Thus do we kill our comforts, and then complain for want of them. How should you have any life or constancy of consolations, that are so seldom, so slight, so unbelieving, and so heartless in your thoughts of heaven! You know what a folly it is to expect any peace, which shall not come from Christ as the fountain. And you must learn as well to understand what a folly it is to expect any solid joys, or stable peace, which is not fetched from heaven, as from the end. O that Christians were careful to live with one eye still on Christ crucified, and with the other on Christ coming in glory! If the everlasting joys were more in your believing thoughts, spiritual joys would more abound at present in your hearts. It is no more wonder that you are comfortless when heaven is forgotten, or doubtingly remembered, than that you are faint when you eat not, or cold when you stir not, or when you have not fire or clothes.

But when Christians do not only let fall their expectations of the things unseen, but also heighten their expectations from the creature, then do they most infallibly prepare for their fears and troubles, and estrangedness from God, and with both hands draw calamities on their souls. Whoever meets with a distressed, complaining soul, where one or both of these is not apparent ? Their low expectations from God hereafter, or their high expectations from the creature now?

What doth keep us under such trouble and disquietness, but that we will not expect what God hath promised, or we will needs expect what he promised not? And then we complain when we miss of those expectations which we foolishly and ungroundedly raised to ourselves. We are grieved for crosses, for losses, for wrongs from our enemies, for unkind or unfaithful dealings of our friends, for sickness, for contempt and disesteem in the world! But who bid you look for any better? Was it prosperity and riches, and credit, and friends, that God called you to believe for? or that you

became Christians for? or that you had an absolute promise of in the word? If you will make promises to yourself, and then your own promises deceive you, whom should you blame for that? Nay, do we not, as it were necessitate God hereby to embitter all our comforts below, and to make every creature as a scorpion to us, because we will needs make them our petty deities? We have less comfort

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