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My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes ways. Prov. 23, 26.
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant. Ps. 25, 14.
While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them and behold, a voice out of the cloud, which said: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. Mat. 17, 5.
The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him shall ye hearken. Deut. 18, 15.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. John 1, 17.
See that ye refuse not him that speaketh: For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven. Heb. 12, 25.
GENTLE AND PIOUS READER,
We live in an age, in which a tendency to licentiousness exerts a powerful influence, the world being filled with all kinds of erroneous and perverted writings, for the most part the productions of philosophy and human reason, by which the truth is held in unrighteousness and the word of God adulterated; the pure and evangelical doctrine has been rendered cloudy and obscure before the eyes and hearts of men, in consequence of which many candid inquirers are distracted and perplexed; a circumstance which gave me great anxiety, particularly when I observed so many poor wandering sheep drinking the impure water of false doctrine, which the faithless shepherds have rendered turbid with the feet of their philosophie wisdom. I have, therefore, been induced by the internal impulse of the Spirit to publish this work, constituting a clear mirror, in which every man may view himself and observe his shape, provided he proceeds correctly in the examination; for it contains, properly speaking, an illustration of Christ's sermon on the mount, which sermon every body will doubtless look upon as a
mirror of all such christians as are dead unto the law and married unto another, namely unto him who is risen from the dead, inasmuch as in this discourse he has displayed before our eyes and hearts a doctrine which stands in direct opposition to our carnal desires and corrupted humanity. Hence so few are found in our time who regulate the conduct of their lives by this doctrine, or act in conformity with its requisitions; for they love the pleasures of this world more than they love God, although Christ himself, in the conclusion of his sermon, declares, Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock, and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it. O that these words might sink deep into the hearts of all men ; then would they not draw water any longer from the impure cisterns of human wisdom and corrupted writings, but they would resort to the true fountain of life, Christ Jesus, and draw from his doctrine the pure water of eternal life, which would become in them wells of divine wisdom springing up into everlasting life, and far transcending all the wisdom of this world.
Well then, all ye fellow travellers to eternity, into whose hands this book may fall, peruse it in
the spirit of true devotion, and criticise upon it not according to your own sentiments, lest it may become a savor of death unto death; but consider it well, and weigh it in the balance of God's word, and then, if you give ear to the testimony of Christ and his Spirit, and to the witness of your own conscience, it may become a savor of life unto life. Would to God that you could read it with the same feelings and emotions, with the same openness of heart and mind, which, by the grace of God, I experienced while writing it; I rest assured it would then produce within you its blessed operation.
But to return: In this little book you will no doubt meet with doctrines which are not at all pleasing to your nature, and which will not quadrate with your carnal wisdom; this, however, must perish in you, or you cannot understand this discourse, for it must be spiritually discerned.
Now, I venture to say, that in this book there may be found medicine for every soul that knows how to make a proper use of it; for he who is impenitent and carnal minded will have his dangerous disease pointed out, as also the means necessary to effect his recovery; nevertheless the medicines for diseases of the soul taste bitter and unpleasant, are acrid and pungent, so much so, that a person who is not sensible of the extreme danger of his sickness, will despise and murmur at them, and as a matter of course, will be unwilling to take them. Again, I am persuaded, that all who feel their sickness and experience the pain of their sins, will employ the means prescribed for their cure. For these in particular, namely, for all health seeking souls who are scattered
abroad in the world, like sheep having no true shepherd, are my heart's concern, that I may serve them with my humble talents; for their salvation is near my heart, if, haply, I might win some to Christ and promote their eternal felicity by means of this humble performance.
This work is likewise intended for all my beloved brethren and sisters in God, here and in other places, for admonition and self-examination, as also for their encouragement and consolation, so that every one may exert himself in order to please God, and walk worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ; for it is his will that we preserve our soul and body pure and undefiled from all the unrighteousness of sin and of false doctrine, that he may have pleasure in us; for it is his will that we render our members weapons of righteousness, and press forward with him, as spiritual soldiers, in the contest against the world, the devil, sin and the flesh. But this appears in the eyes of the world to be an irksome and laborious life, yet to pardoned souls it is a pleasant and heart-quickening life, which they bring forth, after godliness, in the mind and disposition of the Lord Jesus; for they are the good trees which bring forth no corrupt fruit; they are the fruitful branches in the vine Jesus, which can bring forth no other fruit (if they abide in him) than what partakes of the nature of the vine; for they are meek and lowly of heart; they are spiritual and spiritually minded; they are peaceable and patient, merciful and compassionate; their hatred is changed into love, their envy into forbearance, their life is pure and undefiled, their words are gracious, serving for edification; their yea is yea,