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Confifting of many pleafant obfervations, pertinent applications, and ferious reflections; and each chapter concluded with a divine and fuitable poem. Directing husbandmen to the most excellent improvements of their common employments. Whereunto are added, by way of Appendix, feveral choice occafional meditations, upon birds, beafts, trees, flowers, rivers, and feveral other objects; fitted for the help of fuch as defire to walk with God in all their folitudes, and receffes from the world.
THE EPISTLE DEDICATORY.
To the Worshipful ROBERT SAVERY, and WILLIAM SAVERY, of Slade, Efquires.
T hath been long fince obferved, that the world below is a glafs to difcover the world above; Seculum eft fpeculum: and although I am not of their opinion, that fay, the Heathens may spell Chrift out of the fun, moon, and stars; yet this I know, that the irrational and inanimate, as well as rational creatures, have a language; and though not by articulate speech, yet, in a metaphorical fenfe, they preach unto man the wifdom, power, and goodness of God, Rom. i. 20. "There is (faith the Pfalmift, Pfalm xix. 3.) no fpeech, nor language, "where their voice is not heard." Or (as Junius renders it) there is no fpeech, nor words, yet without thefe, their voice is understood, and their line (i. e. faith Diodate) their writing in grofs and plain draughts, is gone out through all the earth.
As man is compounded of a fleshly and fpiritual fubftance, fo God hath endowed the creatures with a fpiritual, as well as flefhly ufefulnefs; they have not only a natural ufe in alimental and phyfical refpects, but alfo a fpiritual ufe, as they bear the figures and fimilitudes of many fublime and heavenly myfteries. Believe me (faith contemplative Bernard) thou fhalt find more in the woods, than in a corner; ftones and trees will teach thee what thou shalt not hear from learned doctors. By a fkilful and induftrious improvement of the creaVOL. V. No. 38. B
tures (faith Mr Baxter excellently) we might have a fuller taste of Christ and heaven, in every bit of bread that we eat, and in every draught of beer that we drink, than most men have in the use of the facrament.
And as the creatures teach divine and excellent things, fo they teach them in a perfpicuous and taking manner: Duo illa nos maxime movent, fimilitudo et exemplum, faith the orator*. These two things, fimilitude and example, do efpecially move us. Notions are more eafily conveyed to the understanding, by being firft clothed in fome apt fimilitude, and fo reprefented to the fenfe. And therefore Jefus Chrift the great Prophet, delighted much in teaching by parables; and the prophets were much in this way alfo, Hof. xii. 10. "I have "ufed fimilitudes by the miniftry of the prophets." Those that can retain little of a fermon, yet ordinarily retain an apt fimilitude.
I confefs it is an humbling confideration, That man, who at first was led by the knowledge of God to the knowledge of the creature, must now by the creatures learn to know God. That the creatures, (as one faith) like Balaam's afs, fhould teach their master. But though this be the unhappiness of poor man in his collapfed ftate, yet it is now his wisdom to improve fuch helps; and whilft others, by the abuse of the creatures, are furthering their perdition, to be, by the fpiritual improvement of them, promoting his own falvation.
It is an excellent art to discourse with birds, beafts, and fishes, about fublime and spiritual fubjects, and make them answer to your queftions; and this may be done, Job xii. 7, 8. "Afk now the "beafts, and they shall teach thee, and the fowls of the air, and "they fhall tell thee; or speak to the earth, and it fhall teach thee, "and the fishes of the fea fhall declare unto thee." That is (faith neat and accurate † Caryl) the creatures teach us when we think of them: They teach us, though not formally, yet virtually; they an• fwer and refolve the question put to them, though not explicitly to ⚫ the ear, yet convincingly to the confcience. So then, we ask the ⚫ creatures, when we diligently confider them, when we fearch out the perfections and virtues that God hath put into, or ftampt up• on them. To fet our mind thus upon the creature, is to discourse • with the creature; the questions which man asks of a beast, are • only his own meditations. Again, the creatures teach us, when
we in meditation make our collections, and draw down a demonftration of the power, wisdom, and goodness of God in making them, or the frailty of man in needing them: fuch conclufions and <inferences are the teachings of the creatures.'
Common objects (faith ‡ another) may be improved two ways; viz. In an argumentative, and in a reprefentative way; by reasoning from them, and by viewing the resemblance that is betwixt them and fpiritual matters.
First, In meditation argue thus, as in the prefent ca fe and fimil tude of the apoftle. If an husbandman upon the ordinary principles of reason can wait for the harveft, fhall not I wait for the coming of the Lord, the day of refreshing? the corn is precious to him, and fo is the coming of Chrift to me. Shall he be fo patient, and endure fo much for a little corn? and fhall not I for the kingdom of heaven? He is willing to stay till all caufes have had their operations, till he hath received the former and the latter rain; and fhall not I, till the Divine decrees be accomplished ?
Secondly, In meditation, make the resemblance, and difcourfe thus within yourselves: This is my feed-time, heaven is my harvest; here I muft labour and toil, and there rest. I fee the hufbandman's life is a great toil: no excellent thing can be obtained without labour, and an obftinate patience. I fee the feed inuft be hidden in the furrows, rotten and corrupted, e'er it can spring forth with any increase. Our hopes are hidden, light is fown for the righteous; all our comforts are buried under the clods, and after all this there must be long waiting, we cannot fow and reap in a day; effects cannot follow till all neceffary causes have first wrought. It is not in the power of hufbandmen to ripen fruits at pleasure, our times are in the hands of God, therefore it is good to wait; a long-fuffering patience will reap the defired fruit. Thus you have fome hints of this heavenly art of improving the creatures.
The motives inducing me to this undertaking, were the Lord's owning with fome fuccefs, my labours of a like nature*, together with the defire and inclination (ftirred up in me, I hope, by the Spirit of the Lord) to devote my vacant hours to his fervice in this kind. I confidered, that if the Pharifees in a blind zeal to a faction, could compafs fea and land to profelyte men to their party, though thereby they made them fevenfold more the children of the devil than before; how much more was I obliged, by true love to God, and zeal to the everlasting happiness of fouls, to use my utmost endeavours both with feamen and husbandmen, to win them to Chrift, and thereby make them more than feventy-feven fold happier than before? Not to mention other encouragements to this work, which I received from the earnest defires of fome reverend and worthy brethren inviting thereunto; all which I hope the event will manifeft to be a call from God to this work.
I confefs I met with fome difcouragement in my first attempt, from my unacquaintedness with rural affairs; and because I was to travel in a path (to me) untrodden; but having once engaged in it, thofe difcouragements were foon overcome. and being now brought to what you here fee, I offer to your hands these first fruits of my fpare hours.
I prefume you will account it no difparagement, that I dedicate a
• Navigation Spiritualized.
book of husbandry to gentlemen of your quality. This is fpiritual husbandry, which here is taught you; and yet I tell you, that great perfons have accounted that civil employment (which is much inferior to this) no difparagement to them. "The king himself is ferved "by the field," Ecclef. v. 9. Or, as Montanus renders the Hebrew text, Rex agro fit fervus; The king himself is a fervant to the field. And of king Uzziah it is written, 2 Chron. xxvi. 10. "That he "loved husbandry.” And Amos vii. I. we read of the king's mowings. Yea, Pliny hath obferved, that corn was never fo plentiful at Rome, as when the fame men tilled the land that ruled the commonwealth. Quafi gauderet terra laureato vomere, fcilicet et aratore triumphali; as though the earth itself rejoiced in the laurelled plow-fhare, and the triumphant plowman.
What pleasure you will find in reading it I know not; but to me it hath been a pleasant path from first to last; who yet have been at far greater expence of time and pains in compiling it, than you can be in reading it. The hufbandman's work, you know, is no easy work, and the fpiritualizing of it hath greater difficulties attending it; but yet the pleasure hath abundantly recompenfed the pains. I have found Erafmus's obfervation experimentally true; Qui literis addicti fumus, animi laffitudinem a ftudiis gravioribus contractam ; ab iifdem ftudiis, fed amœnioribus recreamus: Thofe that are addicted to ftudy, (faith he) when they have wearied their spirits with ftudy, can recreate them again with study, by making a diverfion from that which is fevere and knotty, to fome more facile and pleasant subject.
But to hear that God hath ufed and honoured thefe papers to the good of any foul, will yield me the highest content and fatisfaction imaginable.
May you but learn that leffon, which is the general scope and defign of this book, viz. How to walk with God from day to day, and make the several objects you behold, fcala et ale, wings and ladders to mount your fouls nearer to him, who is the centre of all bleffed fpirits. How much will it comfort me, and confirm my hope, that it was the call of God indeed, which put me upon these endeavours!
O Sirs! What an excellent thing would it be for you, to make fuch holy improvements of all these earthly objects which daily occur to your fenfes, and cause them to proclaim and preach to you divine and heavenly myfteries; whilst others make them groan, by abufing them to fin, and subjecting them to their lufts. A man may be caft into such a condition, wherein he cannot enjoy the bleffing and benefit of a pious and powerful ministry; but you cannot (ordinarily) fall into fuch a condition, wherein any thing (excepting a bad heart) can deprive you of the benefits and comforts of thofe excellent fermons, and divinity lectures, which the creatures here offer to preach and read to you..
Content not yourselves, I befeech you, with that natural sweetness the creatures afford; for thereof the beafts are capable, as much, if
not more, than you; but use them to thofe fpiritual ends you are here directed, and they will yield you a fweetnefs far tranfcending that natural sweetness you ever reiifhed in them; and indeed, you never ufe the creatures as their Lord's, till you come to fee your Lord in and by them. I confefs the difcoveries of God in the word are far more excellent, clear, and powerful; "He hath mag"nified his word above all his name." And therein are the unfearchable riches of Chrift, or rich discoveries of that grace that hath no footsteps in nature, as the apoftle's expreffion fignifies, Eph. iii. 8.
And if that which might be known of God by the creatures, leave men without excufe, as it is manifeft, Rom. i. 20. how inexcufable then will thofe be, who have received not only the teachings of the creature, but allo the grace of the gofpel in vain! "How
thall we escape if we neglect to great falvation?" They that are careless in the day of grace, fhall be fpeechlefs in the day of judg
I am fenfible of many defects in thefe papers, (as well as in myself.) They have doubtlefs, a tafte of the diftractions of the times wherein they were written; nor was I willing to keep them fo long under hand as the accurateness and exactnefs with which fucha fubject ought to have been handled, did require. Had I defigned my own credit, I fhould have obferved that counfel, Nonumque prematur in annum, i. e. To have kept it much longer under the file, before I had expofed it to public view; but I rather inclined to Solomon's counfel, "Whatever thy hand "finds out to do, do it with all thy might; for there is no wisdom, "nor knowledge, nor device in the grave, whither thou art going," Eccl. ix. 10.
I apprehend a neceffity of fome fuch means to be used for the inftruction and conviction of country people; who either are not capable of understanding truth in another dialect, or at least are lefs affected with it. The propofition in every chapter confifts of an observation in husbandry; wherein, if I have failed in ufing any improper expreffion, your candour will cover it, and impute it to my unacquaintednefs in rural affairs:
-In magnis voluiffe fat eft.
The reddition or application, you will find, I hope, both pertinent and clofe. The reflections ferious, and fuch as (I hope) your confciences will faithfully improve. I have fhut up every chapter with a Poem, an innocent bait to catch the reader's foul.
That of Herbert is experimentally true:
A verfe may find him that a fermon fiies,
I should never have been perfuaded (especially in this fcribling age, wherein we may complain with the poet,
Scribimus indocti, doctique poemata paffim)