The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or,
HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness
The Necessity, Excellency, Rarity, and Beauty of Holiness
Thomas Brooks, 1662
"To him who orders his conduct aright, will I show the salvation of God." Psalm 50:23
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8.
"God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth." 2 Thes. 2:13.
The Epistle Dedicatory
To all who have but the least desire, the least mind, or the least will—to escape hell, and to go to heaven, or to be happy in both worlds.
The philosophers, speaking of happiness, were divided into two hundred and eighty-eight opinions, everyone intending something—yet resolving upon nothing; and therefore the man in Plutarch hearing them wrangle about the 'summum bonum', the chief good—one placing of it in this, and another in that—he caught up all that was good, hoping that among all he should not miss of happiness; and yet he missed it; true happiness being too great and too glorious a thing to be found in anything below real holiness.
All men in the general, desire to be happy—but all men do not desire in this or that particular, or in this or that way—to be happy. Here there is an infinite difference—so many men—so many minds and opinions.
A desire for happiness is planted in all men by the constitution of nature. This is so intrinsic and so innate in nature, that it is so engraved in it, that even the fall of Adam, as great as it was, has not blotted it out.
This desire for happiness is left in man for a stock to graft holiness on. God grafts the plant of grace upon the stock of nature. Indeed happiness, like Rachel, Gen. 29:17, is so fair and so beautiful a thing, that everyone is apt to fall in love with it, and earnestly to desire it, yes, many there are, who would serve twice seven years to enjoy it. But by the standing law of that heavenly country above, the younger sister must never be bestowed before the elder; you can never enjoy fair Rachel—heaven and happiness—except you are first married to tender-eyed Leah—real holiness, Gen. 29:17-28. He who will have heaven, must have union and communion with Christ; and he who will have union and communion with Christ must be holy. "For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness and what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial?" 2 Cor. 6:14-15.
Of all the many thousands who have traveled to happiness, there is not one to be found, but has traveled there in a way of holiness. Now the drift, the scope of this following treatise, is to make men holy, that they may be happy; it is to make men gracious on earth, that they may be glorious in heaven. Now to prevent all mistakes, rash censures, and misconstructions, I judge it very convenient and necessary, before I go any further, to acquaint the reader plainly and honestly with those arguments which have prevailed with me to dedicate this book to all sorts, ranks, and degrees of people, rather than to any single person, or to any one sort or rank of men whatever. And they are these six.
I. First, Because all sorts and ranks of men are fallen from that primitive holiness that once they had, Psalm 14:3; Romans 3:12. There are five things that we have all lost by our fall in Adam.
First, we have all lost that holy image that God had stamped upon us—and so we have become vile.
Secondly, we have all lost our sonship—and so we have become slaves of Satan.
Thirdly, we have all lost our friendship with God—and so we have become enemies to God.
Fourthly, we have all lost our communion with God—and so we have become strangers to God.
And fifthly, we have all lost our glory—and so we have become miserable.
Some say that the naked body of man was so glorious in his estate of innocency, that all the beasts of the field admired it, and thereupon did homage to him. Oh, how glorious was his soul then! Certainly if the cabinet was so glorious, the jewel within it was much more glorious. But however glorious man was in his primitive estate, it is most certain that he is now so sadly fallen from the highest pinnacle of glory—to so low a step of misery, that God sometimes sends him to the ant to learn instruction, Proverbs 6:6-7; and sometimes he sends him to the stork and the swallow to make a right improvement of precious time, Jer. 8:7; and sometimes he sends him to the ox and to the donkey to learn knowledge, Isaiah 1:3; and sometimes he sends him to the fowls of the air to learn confidence, Mat. 6:25 seq.; yes, and sometimes he sends him to the very lilies and grass of the field to learn how to live without carking and distracting cares.
It is true, man's first estate was a state of perfect holiness, he being made in the image of God, and after the likeness of God, Gen. 1:27. It was an estate of perfect light, knowledge, prudence, wisdom, and understanding. It was an estate of very great honor and dignity, and therefore the psalmist, speaking of man in this estate, brings him in with a crown of glory and honor upon his head, Psalm 8:5, "You have crowned him with glory and honor." Man's first estate was so stately an estate that he was not so much below the glorious angels, as he was above all other creatures. God made him the sovereign ruler of the whole creation, God gave him an absolute dominion and authority both of sea and land, and all creatures in both were subjected to him, Gen. 1:26; Psalm 8:6-8.
Such was the exquisite beauty and perfection of his body, that from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet there was not the least blemish. His outward man was clothed with all such requisite beauties and abilities that might render him lovely and attractive to every eye. In a word, man's first estate was a state of perfect happiness. All within him, and all without him, and all about him, spoke him out to be completely blessed. There was nothing within him—but what was very sweet and desirable; there was nothing without him—but what was very delightful and amiable; neither was there anything about him—but what was serviceable and comfortable.
Oh—but now by his fall, his crown has fallen from his head, and from the heads of all his posterity, Lam. 5:16; for Adam was a public person. He was the prince of all mankind; and though all mankind was not actually in his loins when he fell—yet they were all potentially in his loins when he fell. If two kings make a league, and the one breaks it, he makes not only himself but all his subjects liable to all the calamities and miseries that shall follow thereupon. Adam was our common father, and we are all his sons and daughters. Now Adam forfeited his lease, as I may say, and divine justice took the advantage of the forfeiture, and so has turned all his posterity out of doors. So that there is now no way under heaven to be happy—but by being holy. All sorts and ranks of men are fallen in Adam, and there is no way to rise but by Christ and holiness, etc.
II. A second reason why I dedicate this treatise to all sorts and ranks of people, is—because the matter contained in this book is of the greatest and highest concernment imaginable, to all ranks and degrees of men, from the greatest emperor that ever sat upon a throne, to the meanest and the poorest wretch that ever lay upon a ash-heap. And doubtless that which is of such a marvelous importance to all, may very justly and reasonably be dedicated to all.
III. A third reason why I dedicate this treatise to all sorts and ranks of people, is—because God intends to save some of all sorts, ranks, and degrees. Though greatness and godliness do not always meet—yet greatness and godliness do sometimes meet; and though riches and religion do not always meet—yet riches and religion do sometimes meet. Though not many wise—yet some wise shall be called, sanctified, and saved, 1 Cor. 1:26; though not many mighty—yet some mighty shall be called, sanctified, and saved; though not many noble—yet some noble shall be called, sanctified, and saved. Look, as the sun in the sky does cast his light and warmth upon all sorts, ranks, and degrees of men, Mat. 5:45; so does the Sun of righteousness shine upon the understandings and consciences of all sorts, ranks, and degrees of men, and by his secret and spiritual influences, he warms and cheers the hearts of high and low, rich and poor, noble and ignoble.
Abraham was very great and very gracious: Joseph was very high and very holy: Job was very rich and very righteous. Though most of those kings and princes that we read of in Scripture were bad, very bad—yet some of them were godly, yes, very godly. [It is a strange saying in Lipsius. "The names of all good princes," says he, "may easily be engraved or written in a small ring."] Some of them were as famous for grace, righteousness, and holiness: witness David, Asa, Josiah, Hezekiah, Jehoshaphat, etc., as Saul, Jehoram, Jehu, Ahab, and others of them were infamous for all unrighteousness and wickedness. God, for the glory of his own grace, and the honor of his Son's blood, will have some of all sorts, ranks, and degrees sanctified and saved: and upon this very ground he engages his servants to pray for all sorts, ranks, and degrees of men, in 1 Tim. 2:1-4.
Now where God is resolved to save, there he is resolved to sanctify: where he is resolved to make happy, there he is resolved to make holy. And therefore I look upon myself as many ways obliged to have so large a heart for God, as to do all I can to help on the salvation of all sorts, ranks, and degrees of men in the world. My heart's desire and prayer for England is, that her princes and nobles may be sanctified and saved, and that her gentry may be sanctified and saved, and that all the people of the nation may be sanctified and saved. [Romans 10:1.—Paul's copy is not to be despised—but imitated.] I look upon myself as engaged to do all I can, by my pen and prayers, to help make England holy, that so England may be truly happy. For of this I am most certain, that if God will but make England a holy nation, it is not all the powers on earth, nor all the powers of hell, that shall ever make England a miserable nation.
IV. A fourth reason why I thus dedicate this treatise as you see, is—because my former poor labors and endeavors have been acceptable to some of all ranks and degrees, and they have been blessed to some of all ranks and degrees; and I have been encouraged, whetted, and stirred up by some on all hands, once more to cast in my net. And now I have done it, oh that it may issue in the drawing of many souls to Christ! and in the making of the graceless—gracious, the profane—holy! and in the making of those who are holy, to be yet more holy! etc.
V. A fifth reason why I thus dedicate this treatise as you see, is—because though all men are bound to be holy—yet the great, the rich, the noble, and the honorable of the earth are bound above all other men in the world to be holy. God has laid upon them greater obligations and ties to holiness, than he has upon any other men under heaven; and this you may see so clearly and so fully proved in this book—that neither the world nor the devil, as cunning and as learned a devil as he is, will ever be able to disprove. This reason alone is sufficient to justify my present practice.
VI. My sixth and last reason why I thus dedicate this treatise as you see, is—that it may be a blessed testimony and a standing witness for Christ in this day of blasphemy, profaneness, looseness, and wickedness, against all sorts and ranks of people into whose hands it may fall, who, notwithstanding all that is here said, shall continue obstinate and impenitent in their ungodly courses and practices, as men resolved rather to go to hell than to heaven, and to be forever unhappy rather than they will be holy, Isaiah 43:10, 12, and 44:8. Woe, woe to them forever, that had rather be Satan's bond-slaves than Christ's free-men, who had rather be "vessels of wrath" than vessels of honor, and that had rather be firebrands of hell than glorious saints in heaven, Eph. 2:12; Romans 9:22.
And so I have done with those reasons that may satisfy the reader concerning my dedication of this treatise to all sorts, ranks, and degrees of people.
I.Having premised these things in the general, give me permission to say, that if this treatise should fall into the hands of any of the learned judges of this land, or into the hands of any of the justices of this nation, I would then take the humble boldness to offer this to their most serious consideration—namely, that if they would discharge the duties of their places, so as to give up their accounts at last with joy and cheerfulness to the King of kings and Lord of lords; it highly concerns them to study this doctrine of holiness, yes, to fall in love with holiness, and highly to prize it, and earnestly to press after it, and to be restless in their own spirits, until they have experienced the powerful operations of holiness in their own souls; for until then, they will never be able so to administer justice and judgment as befits those who have the name of God, and the name of profession upon them, and who judge themselves to be in a higher place than those heathens were, who were famous for justice and righteousness—and yet never heard of a Christ nor salvation by him—and as befits those who would not stand trembling and quaking in the great and terrible day, when Christ the Lord-Chief-Justice of heaven and earth shall pass a righteous and impartial judgment upon all the judges and justices that ever were on earth, Joel 2:11, 31; Acts 17:31; 2 Tim. 4:1-2.
My Lords and Gentlemen—You know that the wisest prince that ever sat upon a throne has told us that "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people," Proverbs 14:34. ["Where justice is, God is; and where God is, there is no lack of men or fortitude," said Herod at the head of his army, the better to encourage his soldiers.] It is not valor in war—but righteousness; it is not policy in government—but righteousness; it is not wittiness of invention—but righteousness; it is not civility in behavior—but righteousness; it is not antiquity of laws—but righteousness; it is not largeness of dominion—but righteousness; nor it is not greatness of command—but righteousness, which is the honor and the safety, which is the renown and the security of a nation. That nation which exalts righteousness, that nation shall be certainly exalted by righteousness, Amos 5:24.
It is not Ahithophel's policy, it is not Jeroboam's calves in Dan and Bethel, it is not Jehu's pompous zeal, it is not Goliath's sword, it is not rich mines of gold and silver, nor storehouses, nor armies, nor councils, nor fleets, nor forts—but justice and righteousness which exalts a nation, and which will make a lowly people to become a great, a glorious, and a famous people in the world. The world is a ring, and righteousness is the diamond in that ring: the world is a body, and righteousness and justice is the soul of that body.
Ah! England, England! so long as judgment runs down [The Hebrew word which is here rendered "run down," signifies to roll down freely, plentifully, plainly, vigorously, constantly: Where justice thus rolls down, all the world shall never make that nation miserable.] as waters in the midst of you, and righteousness as a mighty stream, you shall not die—but live and bear up bravely against all gainsayers and opposers. But if injustice shall grow rampant, and you shall brandish the sword of justice in the behalf of the friends of Baal, Balaam, and Bacchus, and turn the wheel upon the righteous; if the sword of justice shall be a sword of protection to the desperate swearer, and to the cruel oppressor, and to the roaring drunkard, and to the cursing monster, and to the gospel despiser, and to the Christ despiser, etc., and shall be a devouring sword to the upright and peaceable in the land—divine vengeance will dig your grave, and divine justice will tumble you into it, though all the nations of the earth should labor to prevent it.
It is a base and ignoble spirit, to pity Cataline more than to pity Rome; to pity any particular sort of men, more than to pity the whole. It is cruelty to the good, to justify the bad: it is wrong to the sheep, to animate the wolves: it is danger if not death to the lambs, not to restrain or chain up the lions. But from all these vanities the Lord deliver all your souls! And oh that you would forever remember this, that as the constitution of a man's body is best known by his pulse: if it beats not at all, then we know he is dead; if it beats violently, then we know him to be in a fever; if it keeps an equal stroke, then we know he is sound, well, and whole: so the state of a kingdom or commonweal is best known by the manner of executing justice therein; for justice is the pulse of a kingdom. If justice be violent, then the kingdom is in a fever, in a very bad state; if it stirs not at all, then the kingdom is dead; but if it has an equal stroke, if it be justly and duly administered, then the kingdom is in a good, a safe, and sound condition. When Vespasian asked Apollonius what was the cause of Nero's ruin, he answered, that Nero could tune the harps well—but in government he did always wind up the strings too high, or let them down too low. The application is easy.
Now having premised thus much in the general, give me permission to tell you that there are eight special rules that you are carefully and faithfully to observe in the administration of justice and righteousness. And how you will be able to act suitable to those rules without a spirit of holiness, without principles of holiness, and without an experience of the powerful influences and operations of holiness in your own souls, I cannot for the present understand.
1. Now, my Lords and Gentlemen, the first rule that you are to observe in your administering of judgment and justice, is this—you must do justice IMPARTIALLY. You are called gods, [Psalm 82:1, 6; Luke 20:21; Mat. 22:16.] and in this you must be like to God, who shows no favoritism. He accepts not the rich man because of his robes, neither does he reject the poor man because of his rags. Deut. 1:17, "You shall not respect people in judgment—but you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's." And so in Lev. 19:15, "You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; you shall not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor." The great man is not to be spared for his might, nor the poor man for his misery. [Mercy is good—but not when it is contrary to judgment—Augustine.]
It is neither the great man's power, nor the poor man's baseness—which a judge is to mind in judgment. A judge, a justice, must never out of carnal pity cry out, "Oh, he is a poor man!" nor yet out of base fear cry out, "Oh, he is a great man!" Their eyes are always to be upon causes, and not upon people. The statues of the Theban judges were made without hands and without eyes, to intimate to us, that as judges and justices should have no hands to receive bribes, so they should have no eyes to see a friend from a foe, a brother from a stranger. [The judges in Egypt were portrayed without hands and without eyes, to signify that they were not to take bribes, nor to have partiality.] And it was the oath of the heathen judges, as the orator relates, "I will hear the plaintiff and defendant, with an equal mind, without affection and respect of persons."
In the twelfth novel of Justinian, you may read of an oath imposed upon judges and justices, against inclining or addicting themselves to either party; yes, they put themselves under a deep and bitter execration and curse in case of partiality, imploring God in such language as this, "Let me have my part with Judas, and let the leprosy of Gehazi cleave to me, and the trembling of Cain come upon me, and whatever else may astonish and dismay a man—if I am partial in the administration of justice." That was a famous act of justice that was performed by Canutus, king of Denmark, who, when one of the twelve thieves that he had condemned pleaded that he was of the royal blood—says the king, "It is reason some favor should be showed to this person; whereupon he commanded that he should be hanged on the highest gibbet: which was done accordingly."
It was Cato's complaint of old, that those who robbed private men were clapped up and laid by the heels in cold irons. "But," says he, "public thieves who wrong and rob the commonwealth, they sit in scarlet, with gold chains about their necks."
The Roman orator observed, that the force of justice is such, and so great, that even thieves and robbers, both by sea and land, who live upon injustice and rapine—yet cannot live upon their trade without some practice of justice among themselves. And the Scythian philosopher has long since complained, that laws were like spiders' webs, that would catch flies but not wasps or hornets. His meaning was, that if poor men offended, they would be sure to be punished; but great men who were the makers of laws, they might be breakers of the laws, and yet never be punished for it. In all ages some or others have poured out sad complaints against partial justice. Pilate, who unjustly condemned Christ, was afterwards kicked off the bench by Caius the emperor, for partial justice, and for grief and shame he became his own executioner. O sirs, God will one day kick such judges and justices, not only off the bench—but into hell, who make a trade of partial justice, except there be sound repentance on their sides, and pardoning grace on his, Psalm 9:17, and 11:5. Oh that all the judges and justices of the land would forever remember, what the wisest prince who ever swayed a scepter says in Proverbs 18:5, "It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the innocent of justice." It is not good, that is, it is bad, it is very bad, yes, it is so exceeding bad, as that it can hardly be expressed or uttered. It is so great a wickedness, it is so horrid and so hideous a wickedness, yes, it is so hellish a wickedness—as can hardly be imagined—as can rarely be declared.
The Athenian judges judged in the night, when the faces of men could not be seen, that so they might be impartial in judgment. I have read of Zaleucus, that impartial law-giver and judge among the Locrians, how that he made a very severe law against adulterers—namely, that whoever should be found guilty thereof should have both their eyes put out. Now it so happened, that his son proved the first offender. Forthwith sentence was pronounced, and execution ready to be done: whereupon the judge, his father, put out one of his own eyes and one of his son's, and so showed himself to be both a tender father and an upright and impartial judge at once. O sirs! it is your wisdom and work, yes, it is as much your glory as it is your duty, to be impartial in all your administrations of justice, and not to favor friends or relations, nor to fear the frowns of enemies—but to proceed impartially, according to the merits of the cause that is before you. But,
2. Secondly, As you must do justice impartially, so you must do justice SPEEDILY. Jer. 21:12, "O house of David, thus says the Lord; Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him who is robbed out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings." After examination, execution is to be done with swiftness, Ezra 7:16. When men cry out for "justice, justice," you must not cry out "tomorrow, tomorrow;" you must do justice in the morning. Noon-justice and evening-justice is not so acceptable to God, nor so honorable to yourselves, nor so advantageous to others, as morning-justice is. You are called gods: and as in other things, so in this, you should be like to God, who is speedy and swift in the exercise of justice, as you may see by comparing these scriptures together. [Joel 3:4; Gen. 19; Num. 16; Psalm 101:8.]
The Persian king had one about him, whose office it was to remind him every morning of his charge, saying, "Arise, O king, and have an eye to those affairs for which the great God has made you king, and despatch them." To delay justice, is worse sometimes than to deny justice. It is an evil thing and a dangerous thing, when magistrates, judges, and justice are as long a-bringing forth their verdicts as the elephant her young. Delays of justice make many more irreconcilable. It makes the client often go with a heavy heart, an empty purse, and a threadbare coat. It fetches heavy sighs and groans from the hearts, and a sea of tears from the eyes of the delayed and oppressed. Magistrates, judges, and justices should be always ready to do justice: they should always make time to do justice.
I have read of one of the kings of Persia, how that he would many times alight off from his horse to do justice only to a poor person. It were well if all judges and justices would write after this copy, to be ready to do justice and judgment at all times, and upon all occasions. O sirs! you may have time to live; even when you have outlived your seasons and opportunities of doing justice and judgment; and what a hell will then your lives be to you! To prevent this hell, it is good to do justice in the morning.
I have read of a very poor woman, who was very earnest with king Philip of Macedon to do her justice—but he deferred her, and told her that he had no time to hear her: she replied then, "Why have you time to be king?" The poor woman thought that they were very unfit to be kings and judges, who could not be at time to do justice when the necessities and miseries of poor creatures cried aloud for justice, justice.
I have read of a famous passage of Theodoric, king of the Romans, who, when a widow came to him with a sad complaint, that she had a suit pending in the court three years, which might have been ended in a few days: the king demands of her the judges' names: she tells him: he sends a special command to them to give all the speedy dispatch that was possible to the widow's cause, which they did, and in two days determined it to the widow's liking. This being done, the king calls for the judges, and they supposing that they should have both applause and reward for their expedition, hastened to him full of joy: but after the king had propounded several things to them about their former delays, he commanded both their heads to be struck off, because they had spun out that cause to a three years' length, which two days would have ended. Here was royal justice indeed! [The poets feign Justice to be the daughter of Jupiter, whom he has set over the world to revenge those injuries that one man does to another, etc.]
Oh that all the magistrates, judges, and justices of the nation would every morning lay Proverbs 13:12 warm upon their hearts! "Hope deferred makes the heart sick: but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life." The Hebrew word, that is here rendered deferred, signifies to draw out at length. Men are short-breathed and short-spirited, and hope's hours are full of eternity: and when their hopes are drawn out at length, this makes their hearts sick; and ah, what a world of such sick souls lies languishing at hope's hospital all the nation over, yes, all the world over! Hope in this text is put for the good things men hope for. Now, when the good things men hope for—be it justice or a quick verdict, etc.—are deferred and delayed, this makes the poor client sick at heart. A lingering hope always breeds in the heart a lingering consumption. The harder travail hope has, and the more strongly it labors to bring forth, and yet is deferred and delayed, the more deadly sick the client grows. But when the desire comes, that is, when the thing desired, wished, and looked for, be it justice, be it righteousness, be it success, etc., is gained, it is a tree of life; or rather as the Hebrew has it, is a tree of lives. All sorts of lives, and all the comforts and contents of life, are enrapt up in the enjoyment of the thing desired. He who has those things granted to him which are earnestly desired by him, is once more put into a paradise. Willful delays in justice makes the judge unrighteous, Luke 18:6. But,
3. Thirdly, As you must do justice speedily, so you must do justice SINCERELY. You must do justice out of love to justice, Isaiah 61:8. When the golden angels [money-bribes] appear to draw you to pervert justice, you must say as Peter did to Simon Magus, "May your money perish with you!" Acts 8:20.
Deut. 16:20, "That which is altogether just shall you follow, that you may live, and inherit the land which the Lord your God gives you." Or rather as the Hebrew has it, "justice, justice shall you follow," that is, pure justice shall you follow. The streams of justice should be always pure and clear. "Justice, justice shall you follow," that is, all manner of justice shall you follow, and nothing but justice shall you follow; and you shall follow justice sincerely, exactly, carefully, and constantly: you shall be not apparently just—but really just; not hypocritically just—but entirely just; not partially just—but universally just; not just to some—but just to all; not transiently just—but perpetually just; not sometimes just—but always just.
Proverbs 21:15, "It is joy to the just to do judgment." This argues much sincerity and integrity in a man's spirit, when he does not only do judgment—but joys to do judgment. It is a vanity to do justice slightly, lightly, spasmodically; but it is an honor to do justice from a principle of divine joy. He who joys to do judgment, he will do justice sincerely, he will do justice out of love to justice; and indeed there are no judges, there are no justices compared to those who do justice out of love to justice. Certainly men do justice sincerely—who do justice out of love to justice.
Some judges and justices there have been, who would, like mendicant friars, touch no money themselves—but have a boy or a clerk with a bag to receive it for them. Certainly these were as far from doing justice out of love to justice, as heaven is from hell, or as the Pope, the Turk, and the devil are from being real saints. Doubtless many magistrates, judges, and justices have found that "a gift blinds the wise, and perverts the words of the righteous," Exod. 23:8. Golden dust has put out more eyes, than it has done good to hearts. Oh, this golden wedge, has made many men silent and speechless in good causes!
Titus Vespasian was so delighted in doing of justice, that if a day had passed over his head wherein he had done no act of justice, he would cry out, "O my friends, I have lost a day." And so Epaminondas, a heathen, though he was very poor, and often tempted with great bribes and presents to be unjust—yet he refused and scorned all, and would commonly say, that if the cause were good, he would do it without a bribe, because it was good; but if the cause was bad, he would not meddle with it for a world. These heathens will one day rise in judgment against all such corrupt judges and justices that will not do justice without a bribe. If this treatise should fall into the hands of any such, I would then let them know that God will one day make good that dreadful word against them, that you have in Job 15:34, "For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery;" or as the Septuagint reads it, "Of men that take gifts, fire shall consume;" or rather as the Hebrew has it, "Fire shall eat the tabernacles; it shall feed on their tabernacles as greedily as a hungry man does feed on his food." Oh, the sumptuous buildings which have been built by the hands of bribery, shall be set on fire by a hand of justice! Proverbs 10:2-3, and 3:33. God will one day burn up all the comforts, and all the contentments, and all the enjoyments of corrupt magistrates, judges, and justices.
I have read of a Polonian judge, who stood up very stoutly and resolutely a long time for a poor plaintiff against a rich defendant; but at last he received from the defendant a great sum of money, stamped with the usual stamp of that country, which is a man in complete armor; and at the next session in open court he adjudged the cause in the favor of the defendant: and being sharply blamed by his friends for it, he showed them his large bribe, and demanded of them, "Who could stand out against so many men in complete armor?" Ah, England, England! it would be better with you if this spirit did not still survive; but alas, what good will all these men in armor do them in the great day of our Lord, when the thoughts of all such corrupt magistrates, judges, and justices shall be exceedingly troubled, their countenances changed, their hearts terrified, their consciences awakened, their souls amazed, and their knees dashed one against another! Oh that all judges and justices would forever make Isaiah 5:23 their daily companion, "Woe to those who justify the wicked for a reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him."
I have read of Sysamnes, a covetous, tenacious judge, who for filthy lucre pronounced a false sentence; whereupon Cambyses, king of Persia, commanded him to be killed and flayed, and his skin to be nailed over the tribunal: and then he commanded his son to sit as judge there, that so this sight might arm him against all injustice, and be a terror to all that succeeded him. If princes did but exercise such royal justice upon all corrupt covetous judges and justices, justice would be had at a cheaper rate, and poor men would not be so often put to pawn their coats, nor rich men would not so often empty their purses nor mortgage their inheritances. But,
4. Fourthly, As you must do justice sincerely, so you must do justice DELIBERATELY. You must have one ear for the defendant, and another for the plaintiff, or else you are at once both weak and wicked, Deut. 17:4; vide Deut. 19:17-19. It argues much weakness of spirit, to judge a matter before all is heard that can be said. Job's piety and prudence shined forth eminently in this, that the cause that he knew not, he searched it out, Job 29:16. Before God would pronounce judgment upon Adam, he first examines him, and propounds several questions to him, Gen. 3. And in those two great and famous acts of justice, when God confounded Babel's builders, and rained hell out of heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah, he tells you that he will go down and see, Gen. 11 and 18.
You are called gods; in this it is as much your glory as it is your duty to imitate the great God. Though Solomon was in all his glory—yet he had patience to hear both what the mother and the harlot had to say. The Holy Spirit calls him a fool—who answers a matter before he hears it, Proverbs 18:13. It was the usual custom of Philip, king of Macedon, to stop up one of his ears while the accuser was speaking, that so he might reserve it for the defendant. I have read of some who have deeply suffered both in their civil liberties and in their consciences, for their rash and hasty passing of judgment upon others. Why has God given the judges of the earth two ears and but one tongue—but that they should be swift to hear and slow to speak?
I have read of Louis, king of France, that when he had through inadvertency granted an unjust suit, as soon as ever he had read those words of the psalmist, "Blessed is he who does righteousness at all times," Psalm 106:3, he presently recollected himself, and upon better thoughts gave his judgment quite contrary. Certainly all acts of justice ought to flow from mature deliberation. All magistrates, judges, and justices, in their administrations of justice and judgment, should wisely observe by what principles they act, and by what rules they act, and by what authority they act, and in what manner they act, and to what ends they act. And how all these important things can be done without serious deliberation, I cannot for the present understand.
Justice in the emblem is represented with a balance in the one hand, and a sword in the other—to note that matters must be first deliberately weighed in the balance, before judgment can be passed. He who only uses the sword and not the balance, may smite an innocent Naboth, and acquit a guilty Ahab. The civil law concludes it very unreasonable for any man to give advice or judgment before he has considered and weighed the whole cause. And therefore by your own laws you are bound to deliberate before you give judgment, unless you will tell the world that you, even you, are unreasonable men, who above all others should be the masters of the greatest reason, as well as men of the greatest measures of grace and holiness. But,
5. Fifthly, As you must do justice deliberately, so you must do justice RESOLUTELY, courageously, valiantly. As soon as Joshua came into the office of magistracy, God charges him no less than three times, in a breath as it were, to be very courageous, in Joshua 1:6-9. A judge who is timorous will quickly be treacherous. A judge who is fearful can never be faithful. Solomon's throne was supported with lions, to show that magistrates should be men of courage and mettle. The Athenian judges sat in Mars Street, to show that they had martial hearts, and that they were men of courage and mettle, Acts 17:22; Job 31:31, 34. Job was a judge of rare courage and magnanimity; nothing could frighten him, nothing could daunt him, nothing could terrify him, nothing could discourage him from doing justice and judgment.
There must be indifference in determining, so there ought to be courage in executing. Where there is courage without knowledge, there the eye of justice is blind; and where there is knowledge without courage, there the sword of justice is blunt. Judges and justices should be men of courage for God and godliness. Why should not the standard be of steel, and the chief posts in the house be of oak? I have read of Agesilaus, how that he was by all concluded fit to be made their king—except that he halted. Men of the best and choicest accomplishments, if they are not courageous and magnanimous—but lame and halting, they are no ways fit for magistrates. Judges and justices should have martial spirits, high spirits for justice and righteousness.
Every judge, every justice, should have a lion's heart, an eagle's eye, and a giant's arm. Such men whose dull hearts are faint, whose heads are dull, whose ears are heavy, whose eyes are dim, whose hands are weak, and whose feet are lame—are more fit to sit in a chimney corner than to sit as judges and justices upon the bench. It has been long since said of Cato, Fabricius, and Aristides, that it was as easy to remove the sun out of the sky—as to remove them from justice and equity; they were men of such courageous and magnanimous spirits for justice and righteousness. No scarlet robe does so well befit a judge—as holy courage and stoutness does.
I have read of Louis the Eleventh, king of France, who going about to establish some unjust edicts, which, when some of his chief courtiers perceived, they all went to him in red gowns; the king asked them what they would have, they answered, "We have come with a full purpose to lose our lives—rather than by our connivance, any unjust ordinance should take place." The king being amazed at this answer, and at the courage, constancy, and resolution of those nobles, gave them gracious reception, and commanded that all the former edicts should be forthwith cancelled in his presence. Courage and resolution may prevent many a public mischief and misery. But,
6. Sixthly, As you are to do justice resolutely, courageously, so you are to do justice and judgment EXACTLY. God is exact in all his ways, and he is exact in all his works; he is exact in all his promises, and he is exact in all his threatenings; he is exact in all his rewards, and he is exact in all his punishments; he is exact in the exercise of his mercy, and he is exact in the exercise of his justice. "He appointed judges throughout the nation in all the fortified cities, and he gave them these instructions—Always think carefully before pronouncing judgment. Remember that you do not judge to please people but to please the Lord. He will be with you when you render the verdict in each case that comes before you. Fear the Lord and judge with care, for the Lord our God does not tolerate perverted justice, partiality, or the taking of bribes." 2 Chronicles 19:5-7; Exod. 23:6, 7, 13.
You who are called gods, should in this be like God. O sirs, some by force, others by flattery, some by large presents to your relations, and others by promising great rewards to yourselves—may endeavor to corrupt you, and blind you, and induce you to judge rashly, inconsiderately, irregularly, etc.; and therefore you have the more cause to be exact in transacting all your judicial affairs. Oh, remember that the most sharp and piercing eye of God is still upon you! Oh, remember that the severe eye of Jesus Christ, who is the judge of judges, is never off of you! Oh, remember that the angels, those princes of glory, are very strict observers of you. When the Ethiopian judges were set in their seats of judicature, certain empty chairs were placed about them, into which they conjectured the holy angels came and were spectators of all their transactions, and this they thought would work such an awe, such a dread, such a care, such a fear, and such a resolution in them, that they could not but manage all their judicial proceedings with much exactness and heedfulness.
And as the angels have their eyes upon you, so Satan has always his eyes upon you; he has always a watchful eye, an envious eye, a malicious eye, a crafty eye, and a revengeful eye upon you. Witness his dissuading you sometimes from your duty; and witness his distracting and disturbing of you while you are in your duty; and witness his accusing of you for the neglect of your duty; and witness his endeavors to pride you and puff you up upon the discharge of your duty.
And as the eye of Satan is upon you, so the eyes of godly men are always upon you, and the eyes of bad men are upon you. And if all this does not bespeak you to be very exact and accurate in all your judicial transactions, I know nothing. My Lords and Gentlemen, if all this will not do, then remember that the lives, liberties, consciences, rights, privileges, estates, and interests of people—next to God and Christ and grace—are the most choice and precious, the most desirable and delectable jewels which men have in all the world; and therefore you had need be very exact and accurate in all your judicial transactions. [Tennes was so strict and exact in judgment, that he caused an axe to be held over the witnesses' heads, to execute them immediately, if they were taken with falsehood.]
Yes, once more, remember that God will one day bring you to an exact account concerning all your judicial proceedings. That same mouth which tells you who you are gods, tells you also that you must die like men; and after death comes judgment, Psalm 82:6, 7; Heb. 9:27. You who now call others to judgment, shall shortly be called to judgment yourselves: you who now sit in judgment upon others, shall before long be judged by him who will judge the world in righteousness, Acts 17:31. That judge to whom you must be responsible is no ignorant judge, nor any covetous judge, nor any partial judge, nor any fearful judge, nor any doting judge, nor any trifling judge; but he is an omniscient judge, an omnipotent judge, an impartial judge, a holy judge, a courageous judge, a serious judge, a exact judge, an unbiased judge, a righteous judge, and a resolute judge. Alas, sirs, it is not your scarlet gowns, nor your titles of honor, nor your great estates, nor your interest in princes, nor your noble relations, nor your applause among men—which will stand you in good stead, when you shall stand before that judge who is a consuming fire, Heb. 12:29.
Well, Gentlemen, remember this, there is never a professing judge nor justice in the world, who will be able at last to give up their accounts with joy, and to stand in judgment when the Lamb shall sit upon his throne—but such as have made it their great business to take the Spirit of the Lord for their guide, and to set up the glory of the Lord as their great end, and to make the word of the Lord their principal rule, and to eye the example of the Lord as their choicest and chief pattern. And therefore it is much to be feared that the number of such judges and justices, that will be able to stand before the judge of all the world—will be but few. But,
7. Seventhly, As you must do justice and judgment exactly, so you must do justice to others as you would have others do justice to you. For judges and justices to do as they would be done by, is the royal law, the golden rule, and the standard of equity. Judges and justices should think of others, as they would have others think of them; and speak of others, as they would have others speak of them; and do to others, as they would have others do to them. [Mat. 7:12. Severus, the emperor, had this scripture often in his mouth; and whenever he punished any of his soldiers for offering of injuries to others, he still commanded this scripture to be proclaimed by the crier.] Whatever by the light of nature, or by the light of conscience, or by the light of scripture—a judge, a justice, would have another do to him, the same must he do to another. In all just things—for so this law of Christ is only to be understood—we must do to others, as we would have others do to us. As we would have others behave equally, justly, and righteously towards us—so we must behave equally, justly, and righteously towards others. And as we would not have others to wrong us in our names, estates, rights, liberties, lives—so we must not wrong others in their names, estates, rights, liberties, lives, etc. This law of Christ is the sum of all righteousness. It is the foundation of all justice and equity.
Self-love does so commonly blind men, that to judge righteously, they must put themselves in others' place. All princes, judges, justices, parents, masters, subjects, servants, and children, should so act in their relations, as they would have others act in the co-relation. All injustice will be repaid one time or another; and therefore men had need be just, and do to others as they would have others do to them. I have read of a citizen of Comun, who being cast into prison upon suspicion of murder, his wife could get no promise of his deliverance, unless she would give the captain, whose prisoner he was, two hundred ducats, and yield her body to his pleasure; which, with the consent of her husband, she did; but after the captain had his desire, he notwithstanding put him to death. The Duke Gonzala hearing of it, commanded the captain to restore the two hundred ducats to the widow, with an addition of seven hundred crowns; then he enjoined him to marry her presently, and lastly, before he could enjoy his new wife, the duke caused him to be hanged for his treachery and injustice. Sometimes in this life, injustice is repaid upon the heads of unjust judges.
My Lords and Gentlemen, before I close up this head, give me permission heartily to recommend to your justice those wrongs and injuries which more immediately strike at the honor and glory of the great God. God has put his name upon you; Psalm 82:6, "I said that you are gods:" yet it must be granted that you are gods in a smaller letter—mortal gods, gods that must die like men. And as God has put his name upon you, so he has made you his viceroys. 2 Chron. 19:6, "You judge not for yourselves—but for the Lord." And therefore God takes all affronts which are done to you, as done to himself, as you may see by comparing theses scriptures together. [Romans 13:2; Exod. 16:7, 8; 1 Sam. 8:7; Romans 13:7; Josh. 4:14.] And God has provided for your honor among men; Exod. 22:28, "You shall not revile your judges, or curse the ruler of your people." God will judge against all who scorn to give to magistrates that honor that, by the fifth commandment, which is due unto them. And God is very severe in revenging the wrongs which are done to you, 2 Pet. 2:9-10; 1 Sam. 8:7. He interprets all the injuries which are done to you, as done to himself. And why then will you not revenge the wrongs and injuries which are done to the great God?
Give me permission, Gentlemen, in the behalf of the great God, a little to expostulate with you. Shall the least dishonorable word that is spoken against an earthly prince be severely punished? and shall all those horrid and hellish blasphemies, by which the Prince of the kings of the earth is dishonored and reproached all the nation over, pass unobserved? Shall all affronts which are offered to ambassadors be deeply resented and justly censured, as high indignities done to the prince who employs them? and shall the ambassadors of the great God—I mean such as are called, commissioned, spirited, gifted, and graced for that high office by God himself—be scorned, defamed, injured, reviled, and on all hands evilly entreated, and yet no man say, "Why do you thus wickedly, to provoke the great God to your own destruction?" 2 Chron. 36:15, seq. Shall it be looked upon as noble and necessary justice, that all insurrections in the state be punished as rebellion? and shall those who are daily up in open arms against the great God, and who daily bid defiance to him, to his Son, to his ordinances, to his people, to his word, and to his ways—escape without the least lash, the least censure? Shall those who rob their neighbors, be indicted, examined, condemned, and executed? and shall others that rob God of his glory, of his Sabbaths, and of his service, etc., escape without the least shaking of the rod, or without the least danger of the whip? Shall all profaneness, looseness, and wickedness, be winked at, yes, countenanced and encouraged, notwithstanding his Majesty's most zealous, pious, and renowned declaration against it? and shall real holiness and the power of godliness be on all hands scorned, discountenanced, opposed, and reviled?
Well, my Lords and Gentlemen, forever remember this: all those sins which are in this land committed, which by your just power and gracious examples might have been prevented, all those sins in the great day shall be charged upon your accounts; and therefore it highly concerns you with all your might to browbeat wickedness, to discountenance ungodliness, and to improve your power to the uttermost, for the suppressing of all profaneness, and for the countenancing, encouraging, and promoting of real holiness, that so you may give up your accounts at last with joy.
I have read of king Ethelbert, how that by his godly example, and by his countenancing and encouraging such as were godly, and by his discountenancing of profaneness and wickedness, he drew this whole kingdom once to look after godliness. O my Lords and Gentlemen, if you would be but shining examples and patterns of holiness to the nation; if you would but in good earnest put forth your utmost power for the encouraging of godliness, and for the suppressing of profaneness; oh, what a holy nation, yes, what a happy nation would we have! King Cyrus commanded the chief officers of his army to keep a strict hand upon themselves; for, says he, that is the best way in the world to keep the whole army in good order. The application is easy. But,
8. Eighthly, In the exercise of justice, you must see that justice and mercy, that justice and clemency go hand in hand. Proverbs 20:28, "Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upheld by mercy," Proverbs 29:14; Psalm 101:1. Some read the words thus, "Mercy and justice preserve the king; and his throne is upheld by mercy." [It is usual in Scripture, by truth, to understand justice.] All justice will not preserve the king, nor all mercy will not preserve the king; there must be a mixture both of justice and mercy to preserve the king, and to uphold his throne; and to show that mercy is more requisite than justice, the word mercy is doubled in the text. Justice without mercy turns into rigor, and so becomes hateful; mercy without justice turns into fond pity, and so becomes contemptible.
Look! as the rod of Aaron and the pot of manna were by God's command laid up in the same ark—so must mercy and justice be preserved entire in the bosom of the same magistrate, judge, and justice. Mercy and justice, mildness and righteousness, lenity and fidelity—are a safer and a stronger guard to princes and people, than rich mines, munitions of rocks, mighty armies, powerful navies, or any warlike preparations.
It is very observable that Christ is called but once the Lion of the tribe of Judah, in the Book of the Revelation, and that is in chapter 5:5; but he is called a Lamb no less than twenty-nine times in that book. And what is this but to show the transcendent mercy, clemency, lenity, mildness, and sweetness, which is in Jesus Christ, and to show that he is infinitely more inclined to the exercise of mercy, than he is to the exercise of justice. It is true, magistrates, judges, and justices should be lions in the execution of justice; and it is as true that they should be lambs in the exercise of mercy and clemency, mildness and sweetness. And the more ready and inclinable they are to the exercise of mercy, where mercy is to be showed, the more like to the lamb they are. Seneca has long since observed that the custom of anointing kings, was to show that kings should be above all other men of the greatest sweetness and mildness, their anointing being a sign of that kingly sweetness and mildness which should be in them. Nero's speech has great praise, who, when he was to subscribe to the death of any condemned man, would say, "I wish I did not know how to write." But,
9. Ninthly and lastly, You must do justice PROPORTIONATE to the nature of the offence. Your penalties and punishments must be always suitable to the offence. To punish any fact more severely than it deserves, is always injustice to the offender; for so far innocency itself suffers, as any man is punished beyond the demerit of his offence. And to punish less than the fact deserves, may be of dangerous consequence to the public. [I have read of the Nile river, that if it either exceeds or is deficient in its due over-flowings of the land of Egypt, it causes famine: the application is easy.] The Roman fasces were a bundle of rods with an axe in the midst, to signify the equity of magistrates in punishing some only with rods, and others with the axe. The Romans had their rods for lesser faults, and their axe for capital crimes. Justice is lax, when it spares where it ought to punish; and justice is then too severe, when it punishes where it ought to spare.
Extreme right often proves extreme wrong. He who will always go to the utmost of what the law allows, will too often do more than the law requires. It is rare, very rare, to see a man dance upon the brink of the pit, and not to tumble in. A rigid severity often mars all; equity is still to be preferred before extremity. To inflict great penalties and heavy censures for light offences, this is to kill a fly upon a man's forehead with a hammer. In the French history, there is mention made of an old courtier who would often depart the court, and retire himself to a private life; the king desired his advice in some general rules, what was best to be done in the government of the kingdom. Upon which motion he took a large paper, and wrote upon the top of the leaf, Moderation; and in the middle of the leaf, Moderation; and at the bottom of the leaf, Moderation; signifying thereby thus much to the king, that the best way in the world to have his crown set fast, and to keep his kingdom safe, was to manage throughout all his affairs with moderation. And there is nothing more evident in scripture and history than this, that many by screwing the pegs of government too high, have broke all in pieces about their ears.
Now, my Lords and Gentlemen, there are five things or rules that will be of singular use to help you in this case, to steer such a course as may be safe and honorable to you, and as may render you a mercy and a blessing to the nation.
1. And the first is this, Never make those things to be sins, which God never made to be sins. To make those things to be sins which God has made to be no sins, is to make gods of yourselves; yes, it is to lift up yourselves above God himself, as if you were more holy, more wise, more just, and more righteous than the Holy One of Israel is. Indeed the Papists, who are will-worshipers, and commonly highly conceited of their own wisdom and worth, they frequently transgress this rule with their "Touch not, taste not, handle not," Col. 2:21-23; which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, etc. But why should you, why should you, who have a higher profession upon you, and a more clear gospel-light shining every day more strongly upon you? But,
2. Secondly, Never make those things to be absolute and necessary duties, that God has nowhere declared to be such, Isaiah 33:22; James 4:12. Such things that do neither fall under a general nor a particular command of God, may not be imposed upon the consciences of men as absolute and necessary duties to be performed by them. A faithful observing of these two rules would prevent a multitude of sins, a sea of sorrows, and a world of troubles. But,
3. Thirdly, In all your administrations of justice, take the authority of the word of God with you. This will yield you most comfort, most peace, most security, and most boldness, in the great day of your account. But,
4. Fourthly, Never put off your own souls with any such pleas or arguments now, which are not pleadable in the court of conscience, when you shall lie upon your dying-beds; nor which are not pleadable before the court of heaven, when you shall stand before Christ's judgment-seat. But,
5. Fifthly and lastly, In all your administrations of justice and judgment, be sure that you act nothing upon the account of any command, commission, or authority under heaven, that you dare not own, plead, and stand by before the great authority of heaven, when the King of kings shall make a narrow inspection into all your judicial proceedings, and accordingly pass judgment upon you. What though this command, and that commission, and the other authority, may bear you out in this world? yet if they are too weak to bear you out in the other world, you will curse the day that ever you were born, and wish that you had rather been lying under a hedge, or a-begging at the rich man's door—than that you had ever sat in seats of judicature, to act upon such grounds as are no ways pleadable before the Lord Jesus Christ, when he shall come in the glory of his Father, with all his holy angels, to judge all the kings, princes, nobles, judges, and justices of the earth.
My Lords and Gentlemen, if these five things or rules were but sincerely, seriously, resolutely, and constantly followed, no heart can conceive, nor any tongue can express, the heinous sins, the sore troubles, and the dreadful calamities and woeful miseries that thereby would be prevented. And thus, my Lords and Gentlemen, I am done with those special rules that you are carefully, diligently, faithfully, and constantly to observe in all your judicial administrations; but how you will be able to act suitable and answerable to these rules without a spirit of holiness, without a principle of holiness, and without an experience of the powerful operations of holiness in your own souls—I am not able to see. And, therefore, how important is it for you to study holiness, to love holiness, to prize holiness, to countenance holiness, to encourage holiness, to promote holiness; and to be restless until you have experienced the power, and life, and sweet of holiness in your own hearts and lives.
And oh, that after all this pains that I have taken upon the account of your immortal souls, I may not have cause to complain, as once Marcus Antonius did: "Alas," says he, "those graces which the deity sent down as so many pillars to prop up human societies, namely, Faith and Modesty, Justice and Verity, they found such cold treatment in the world, that they are fled back to heaven." I shall follow these weak endeavors with my best prayers, that you may all put on holiness as a royal robe, and that all your judicial administrations may savor of a spirit of holiness, and of the power and prevalence of holiness, that so you may be as high in happiness above others, as you are now in power and place exalted above others.
II.If this treatise should fall into any of their hands who call and account themselves ministers of Jesus Christ—but are such as who preach to please the people—rather than to profit their souls; to tickle the ear—rather than to awaken the conscience; who are better at fleecing of their flocks—rather than they are at feeding of their flocks; who seek more men's goods—rather than their good; [Ezekiel 13, Ezekiel 34—read it throughout; Mat. 23:23; Mat. 25:1-10.] who set up men's traditions above God's own institutions; who prefer human commands before divine commands; who are very zealous and warm for mint, anise, and cummin—but are very cold, careless, and negligent in the great and weighty matters of the law, namely, judgment, mercy, and faith; who can bless God in the church, and blaspheme him in the tavern; who prefer entertaining music in the church before singing of hallelujahs in heaven; who prefer a fat salary before an interest in a heavenly inheritance; who can kneel devoutly behind a pillar, and in their drunken fits rail as stoutly against a post; who pretend a great deal of reverence to the name of Jesus, and yet in their lives do daily crucify the Lord Jesus; who with Judas can kiss Christ and betray Christ in a breath; who pretend much kindness to Christ, the head, and yet show nothing but unkindness to his body—his people; who preach as if they had a mind to go to heaven, and live as if they were resolved to go to hell; who feast their own bodies—but starve their people's souls; who think it a greater sin to eat flesh in Lent, than it is to lie with their neighbor's wife; who speak ten words to elevate themselves, and hardly two for Christ; and who instead of preaching up holiness, and promoting of holiness, and countenancing and encouraging of holiness—do all they can to discountenance holiness, to browbeat holiness, to keep down holiness, to bespatter holiness, to work men out of love with holiness, and to hinder the growth and increase of holiness. "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord: Destruction is certain for you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn't shepherds feed their sheep? You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve!" Ezekiel 34:2-3
Oh that these men would seriously consider how unlike to the true ministers of Jesus Christ they are! Do but look into a scripture-glass, and you may easily see that hell is not more unlike to heaven, nor sin more unlike to grace, nor Satan more unlike to God—than you are unlike to the holy, conscientious, laborious, etc., ministers of Jesus Christ. Several authors in print have written on this at large, and therefore I shall not enlarge upon it; only give me permission to say, that God's holy things ought to be handled with fear and reverence, rather than with wit and dalliance. Spiritual cuteness is the next degree to unfaithfulness. Ministers must not be hot in the pulpit—but cold, carnal, and careless in their lives. Those who stand before princes must be exact in their behavior. God appointed both the weights and measures of the sanctuary to be twice as large as those of the commonwealth; to show that he expects much more of those who serve him there, than he does of others.
"The souls of ministers, must be purer than the sunbeams," says golden-mouthed Chrysostom. Mirthful things in a sermon are only for men to gaze upon and admire. What are high strains and flashes of wit, new minted words and phrases—but like colorful weeds compared to the good corn?
Doctrine is but the drawing of the bow; application is the hitting of the mark. How many are wise in generals—but vain in their practical inferences. A general doctrine not applied, is as a sword without an edge, not in itself—but to others; or as a whole loaf set before children, that will do them no good. A garment fitted for all bodies, is fit for no body; and so that which is spoken to all, is taken as spoken to none. Aaron's bells were golden bells, sounding pleasantly, and not as sounding brass or tinkling cymbals, as many of the carnal clergy of this nation are this day.
Many there are who account themselves ministers of Jesus Christ, who are but like empty orators, who have a flood of words, and but a drop of matter; of whom we may truly say, "They speak much, and yet say nothing," because they say nothing to the purpose. When the Lacedemonian heard how sweetly the nightingale sang, "Oh," said he, "that I had this bird, surely it is a rare dish!" But when he had taken it, and ate it, and found nothing but a little picking meat, he concluded with that proverbial saying, "Now I see that you are a mere voice and nothing else." How applicable this is to many preachers in these days, who have good lungs—but bad brains, and worse hearts and lives, the prudent reader may easily see.
John the Baptist was a burning and a shining light, as well as a voice. His sermons were stuffed with divine and weighty matter, etc., and not filled up with big words or strains of wit. Many there are, who have John's voice in the ministry, that have not that heat and life that John had in his ministry. That great orator—Demosthenes—himself could say, "that the riches of Greece did not consist in words." It is not for ministers to use golden sentences, strong lines, frothy wit, in winning of souls to Christ; for it is iron, and not gold—which kills in the encounter; it is the steel sword, and not the golden sword—which wins the field. Woe to such preachers that darken counsel by words without knowledge, Job 38:2, that affect sublime notions, obscure expressions, uncouth phrases, making plain truths difficult, and easy truths hard; who seek abstrusities, and love to soar aloft in dark expressions, and take pleasure to shoot their arrows over their hearers' heads.
The heathenish priests had their mythologies and strange canting expressions of their imaginary inaccessible deities to amaze and amuse their blind superstitious followers, and thereby to hold up their Popish and apish idolatries in greater veneration. And is not this spirit now revived among many? Certainly men of abstracted conceits, and sublime speculations—are but wise fools; and commonly they are as erroneous as they are curious. Such as mind more the humoring of their hearers' fancies, than the saving of their souls, do little consider that saying of Seneca, "Sick men are not bettered by physicians' sugared words—but by their skillful hands." The sword of the Spirit never wounds deep, until it be plucked out of the gaudy scabbards of human eloquence.
Mr. Greenham, speaking of ministers, wishes that this motto might be written on their study-doors without, and walls within, on all their books they look on, on all the beds they lie on, and on all the tables they sit at, etc.: "The price of blood, the price of blood, the price of blood!" A preacher's life should be a commentary upon his doctrine; his practice should be the counterpart of his sermons. Heavenly doctrines should always be adorned with a heavenly life.
"Preachers are the glass, the school, the book,
Where people's eyes do learn, do read, do look."
Gentlemen, by these short hints you may see, as in a glass, if you will not put a cheat upon your own souls, how unlike to the true, holy, and faithful ministers of Jesus Christ you are. O sirs, do not you know that the Holy Scriptures, which always speak truth, do clearly evidence that an ignorant, profane, scandalous, superstitious, inefficient, and soul-flattering clergy are the greatest pest, plague, affliction, judgment, etc., which can befall a people, as you may easily see by comparing these scriptures together—Micah 2:11; Isaiah 30:10-11; Jer. 5:31; Lam. 2:14; Isaiah 9:16; Ezek. 3:18; Jer. 23:9, 18; Ezek. 13:22; Jer. 6:14, and 27:14, 16; 1 Thes. 5:3; Jer. 14:13-16; Isaiah 28:7-8; Ezek. 34 throughout; Romans 2:21-24. Other judgments, as war, famine, pestilence, burning fevers, plagues, etc., cannot separate between God and men's souls; for men may have very sweet and high communion with God under the sorest of those judgments. Other afflictions and judgments may spring from the fatherly love of God, and from a gracious design of good to his people: Rev. 3:19; Proverbs 3:11; Heb. 12:5-8; Psalm 89:30, 35; Job 7:17-18; but this is a sad fruit of God's judicial anger and severe indignation against a people. Other judgments often issue in men's seeking of the Lord, and in men's returning to the Lord. Isaiah 26:16-17; Hosea 5:14-15, compared with chapter 6:1-3, and chapter 2:6-7; but this judgment frequently issues in men's forsaking of the Lord, and in their running from God, and in their walking contrary to God, and in the hardening of them against God, and in an everlasting shutting of them out from the presence of the Lord: as you may see by comparing of these scriptures together—Mat. 15:14; Luke 6:39; 1 Thes. 5:3; 2 Thes. 1:7-10; Mat. 23:13.
Do not you know that where there is no vision, the people perish? Proverbs 29:18: The word, that is here rendered perish, signifies to be made naked, to be made bare and uncovered. They are naked as people who are stripped of their garments, and exposed to perish by cold in the winter, or to be scorched or roasted by heat in the summer; or they are naked, that is, they are made the objects of shame and contempt to all that look upon them: or they are made naked, that is, of the grace, blessing, and protection of God: or they are naked, that is, say others, they are forsaken and cast off; for everyone forsakes and casts off people who will not wear clothes, they will have nothing to do with them, Exod. 32:25. Others thus, "The people shall be stripped naked, they shall be left as a city without walls, exposed to the fury of the enemy, as a body without clothes, open to wind and weather." Others thus, "The people shall be unveiled; it will then appear what is within, whether grace or sin; it will then be discovered what pantings, breathings, hungerings, and longings there be in souls after God, and Christ, and holiness, and ordinances." Pagnine thus, "The people will grow barbarous, rebellious, etc., as experience in all ages has fully demonstrated." Others thus, "The people shall be of no esteem, of no repute; nobody will prize them, nobody will value them, nobody will regard them; men set no price, no value upon naked people." Others thus, "The people shall be dispersed, scattered, shivered and shattered;" and this in all ages has been too apparent. Others thus, "They shall be drawn away with errors: they shall either be starved, or else poisoned with God-dishonoring, Christ-denying, scripture-debasing, conscience-destroying, life-polluting, and soul-damning opinions."
It is concluded on all hands, that it shall go ill, very ill, with that people who lack vision—who lack serious, sincere, faithful, and powerful preaching; for where there is no vision, no serious, sincere, faithful, and powerful preaching, there the people perish certainly, undoubtedly, there they go tumbling to hell; and this is evident in the text, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." He does not say they may perish—but they do perish; or they are in danger of perishing—but they do certainly perish. Where there is no serious, conscientious, faithful, powerful preaching, there the people grow abominably wicked, as woeful experience tells us: and what the outcome of that will be, you may see in Psalm 9:17, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God;" or as the Hebrew has it, the wicked shall be turned into hell, that is, they shall certainly be turned into hell; yes, they shall be turned into the nethermost hell, into the lowest dungeon in hell. See Psalm 11:6.
Where vision fails, there men perish temporally. When vision, when preaching ceased among the Jews, oh the dreadful calamities and miseries that came upon that people! how soon did God burn up all their outward comforts, contentments, and enjoyments on every hand, 2 Chron. 15:3, 5-6, compared with chapter 13:9-11, and chapter 36:15 seq.; Mat. 23:37-38. They shut their eyes against all that light that Christ and his apostles brought among them: and what was the outcome of this? Why, about forty years after Christ's ascension, the Romans came and took away their city, and sold thirty of them for a penny, as Josephus writes, etc.; and ever since that time, which is above sixteen hundred years ago, they have been scattered as dung over the face of the whole earth.
Where vision fails, there men perish totally: both the bodies, and the souls of men perish, where serious, conscientious preaching fails; Hosea 4:6, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." The Chaldee renders it, they are besotted, and so fitted for destruction. The Papists say that ignorance is the mother of devotion; but this text tells us that ignorance is the mother of destruction. The heathens were accustomed to say that when their god Jupiter would destroy one—he would first besot him. So these people were first besotted, and then destroyed, Romans 6:16-19.
Where vision fails, there the people perish insensibly and unexpectedly. The ungodly flatter themselves that God is made up all of mercy, and believe that they shall go to heaven--until they awake with everlasting flames about their ears--as you may see in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Where vision fails, there men perish suddenly: in a moment they go down to hell, Job 21:13-15. As the travail of a woman comes suddenly upon her when she least expects it, so everlasting pains and torments come suddenly upon poor sinners when they least expect them, Proverbs 24:22; Deut. 7:4; 1 Thes. 5:3. As God suddenly rained hell out of heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah, Gen. 18; and as he suddenly swept away the old world, Mat. 24:37-39; and as Samuel suddenly cut off Agag, when he concluded that the bitterness of death was past, 1 Sam. 15:32: so God suddenly casts sinners to hell—he suddenly sweeps them away—he cuts them off suddenly; and when they say, "Surely the bitterness of death is past, and everlasting wrath is past, and hell is past, and eternal ruin is past," then suddenly God cuts them off, and gives them their portion with devils and damned spirits, etc.
Where vision fails, there men perish inevitably, irrecoverably: 1 Thes. 5, And they shall not escape. "Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed--without remedy." Proverbs 6:15. Here is their dismal doom: They shall not be only bruised—but broken; yes, they shall be suddenly broken when they least look for it, when they do not at all dream of it, or dread it, and this without remedy. They shall be so broken, as that there shall not be so much as a possibility of making them up again. If a man loses his estate, his friend, his child, this loss may be made up again; but if a man once lose his soul, there is no repairing nor making up of that loss.
Where there is no vision, there men perish everlastingly, there they perish eternally, 2 Thes. 1:7-9; Jude 7.
Do not you know that God will require the blood of all their souls at your hands, who perish either by your insufficiency, or neglect, or bad examples Ezek. 3:18-20, "You shall surely die," in dying you shall die; that is, you shall certainly die, you shall eternally die. The ancients commonly interpret it of the death of the soul.
Do not you know that a minister were better have the blood of all the men in the world upon him—than the blood of one soul upon him? For there is no blood that cries so loud, that will lie so heavy, and which will sink a man so deep in hell, as the blood of souls—I say, as the blood of souls!
Do not you know that there are no men upon the face of the earth who are by office so strictly, so strongly, so universally, so indispensably, and so signally engaged to prize holiness, to countenance holiness, to encourage holiness, to promote holiness, and to practice holiness—as the ministers of Jesus Christ are?
Do not you know that ministers are called angels, in respect of their offices? Rev. 2. Now angels are spiritual creatures; their communion is spiritual, their food is spiritual, their delights are spiritual, their minds are spiritual, their affections are spiritual, and their exercises are spiritual, Psalm 104:4; and in all these respects ministers should be like to the angels. But are not many of them spiritual madmen in these days?—being nothing less than what they profess to be? They are spiritual men in a mockery. So these have no substantial goodness, no substantial holiness at all in them; whereas in holiness they should as far exceed all other men, as the angels in holiness do exceed them.
Do not you know that there is no rank nor order of men on earth, who have so enriched hell, who have been such benefactors to hell—as the ignorant, insufficient, profane, scandalous, and superstitious clergy? In times of Popery letters were written and published as sent from hell, wherein the devil gave the carnal, ignorant, insufficient, scandalous, and superstitious clergy of those times great thanks for so many millions of souls as by their means were daily sent to hell.
Do not you know that all the true faithful prophets, apostles, and ministers of Jesus Christ, who are mentioned in the Old and New Testament, were men of the greatest holiness; [2 Chron. 36:15; Jer. 7:25; 25:4; 35:15; 11:7, etc.; 2 Cor. 11, etc.] and men who made it their greatest business and work to keep down a spirit of profaneness and wickedness; and to countenance, encourage, and promote holiness? Oh, how diligent! oh, how frequent! oh, how abundant! oh, how constant were they in the work of the Lord—that profane people might be made holy, and that those who were holy might be made more and more holy, yes, that they might perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord! etc.
If a man might eat the sweet and never sweat, it would be an easy matter to be a preacher. But every clergyman is, or ought to be, a steward and overseer in God's house; and that is an office of great labor, trust, and employment. Stewards and overseers commonly eat their bread in the sweat of their brows, and after much beating of their brains; but how unlike to such stewards and overseers the clergy are, who I am now expostulating with, I must leave the Christian reader to judge.
Ernestus, Duke of Lunebury, caused a burning lamp to be stamped on his coin, with these four letters, A. S. M. C., by which was meant, "Aliis Serviens Meipsum Contero." That is—by giving light to others, I consume myself. And such were the Lord's faithful prophets, apostles, and ministers of old: and such are all his faithful, laborious, and conscientious ministers now. But how unlike to the one or the other they are, that now I am reasoning with, you may easily perceive, by comparing them together.
I have read of the nobles of Polonia, that when the gospel is read, they clap their hands upon their swords, and begin to draw them out, intimating by that ceremony their resolution to defend the faith, and their willingness to hazard their lives for the gospel's safety. The faithful prophets, apostles, and ministers of old, were willing to sacrifice themselves for the gospel's sake: but how many are there in these days who are more ready and willing to make a sacrifice of the gospel for profit sake, and preferment sake, and honor sake, and lust's sake, etc., than they are to make themselves a sacrifice for the gospel's sake! How unlike these are to the faithful, conscientious ministers of Jesus Christ that have been in all ages, I must leave you to judge.
Do not you know that Pharaoh had that tender regard of his cattle, as that he thought none fit to be their ruler, their overseer—but such as were known men of activity? Gen. 47:6-7. Pharaoh would have none to be his cow-herders but men of activity, men of skill—men who were prudent and diligent, ingenuous and industrious. Shall Pharaoh be so careful for his cows—and shall not ministers be as careful for souls? What man is there under heaven, who has the use of his reason, his wits, etc., that when he is to travel, would take a fool, an ignoramus, for his guide; and that when he is sick, would send for a charlatan to be his physician; or that when he is to ride a dangerous way, would make choice of a coward to defend him; or that when he has a lawsuit, would make use of a dunce to plead it; or that when he has a suit of clothes to make, would send for a bungling tailor to make it? Surely none! And why then should not men be as wise for their souls?
Unholy ministers have been the greatest instruments of bringing the greatest calamities and miseries, and the sorest desolations and destructions, which ever have been brought upon cities, nations, kingdoms, and countries? Compare these scriptures together, and then let conscience speak. [Jer. 26:8-9, 11, 14, 15; Lam. 4:11-13; Amos 7:10-11; 1 Kings 22; 2 Chron. 18.] And who does not know that it was the high-priests, scribes, and Pharisees, who brought the innocent blood of our Lord Jesus Christ upon that once great and glorious nation of the Jews, to their utter destruction and desolation, about forty years after Christ's ascension, when the Romans came and took their city, and practiced the greatest severity and cruelty imaginable upon them, as Josephus and other historians show?
In the Marian days, and in the massacre of the Protestants in France, how great a hand this sort of men had, that I am now a-reasoning with, all the world knows. And so the pagan priests stirred up the pagan emperors to be desperate persecutors of the people of God that were within their empires; which occasioned Tertullian to give that good counsel to Scapula, a pagan persecutor; "God," says he, "will surely make inquisition for our blood, and therefore if you will not spare us—yet spare yourself: if not yourself—yet spare your country, which must be responsible when God comes to visit for the innocent shedding of our blood."
Do not you know that his Majesty has very Christianly, zealously, argumentatively, and smartly declared against drunkenness, lewdness, profaneness, etc., and that he has declared that his resolution is and shall be to promote the power of godliness, to encourage the exercises of religion, both public and private; and that inefficient, negligent, and scandalous ministers be not permitted in the church?
Do not you know that when the great Shepherd our Lord Jesus Christ shall appear, that he will call you to a particular and exact account for every soul that has perished under your charge—either by reason of your ignorance, inefficiency, profaneness, looseness, or superstition, etc.? and how will you then be able to stand in that day? etc., 1 Pet. 5:2-4; Ezek. 17-19.
Gentlemen, if you say you don't understand these things, and that they are riddles and mysteries to you—how dare you say that you are the ministers of Jesus Christ? But if you shall say that you know very well that these things are certainly true, yes, that they are such clear and undeniable truths that no devil can deny—and yet shall continue in your ignorance, inefficiency, profaneness, looseness, superstition, etc., what man on earth is there, who has but read the scriptures, and that can but write his own name, and that would not taken for a fool in folio—will believe you to be the true faithful ministers of Jesus Christ?
Well, Gentlemen, I have read of Alexander the Great, how that he had a soldier by the name of Alexander, who was a coward; which he commanded him either to fight like Alexander, or else to lay down the name of Alexander. So say I to you, Gentlemen, either preach as the ministers of Jesus Christ ought to preach—namely, plainly, spiritually, powerfully, feelingly, fervently, frequently, etc., and live as the ministers of Jesus Christ ought to live—namely, heavenly, graciously, holily, humbly, righteously, harmlessly, and exemplarily, etc., or else lay down your very names of being the ministers of Jesus Christ, and put no longer a cheat upon yourselves, nor upon the people, by making them believe that you are ministers of Jesus Christ, when you have nothing of the spirit of Christ, nor of the anointings of Christ, nor of the grace of Christ, nor of the life of Christ in you.
Gentlemen, if this counsel be seriously minded and faithfully followed, it will turn more to your accounts in the great day of our Lord Jesus, and do you more good then, than all the profits, preferments, and honors of this world can do you good now. But if you shall slight and despise this counsel now, I shall be found a true prophet—to your woe and misery in that great day, etc.
III.If this Treatise should fall into the hands of any ladies and gentlewomen, as I suppose it may, who have not yet experienced the sweet and powerful operations of holiness in their own souls, I would then say,
Ladies and Gentlewomen, your souls are as precious, and as immortal, and as capable of union and communion with Christ here, and of an eternal fruition of Christ hereafter, as the souls of any men in the world are. I have read a sad story of a woman named Bochna, who had but two sons in all the world; and while she was walking with the one by the river, she heard the other crying out, and hastening to him, she found a knife sticking in his side, which killed him immediately. Then she made haste back to the other child—but he in her absence had fallen into the river and drowned—and so she lost both her sons at once! Now, ladies, this is your very case; everyone of you have two children, as I may say—a soul and a body—an eternal life and a temporal life; and oh, what a dreadful and unspeakable loss would it be to lose both these at once! and yet, as certain as there is a God in heaven, you will lose them both without holiness.
All know, who know anything of scripture or history, that there have been many great ladies and gentlewomen, who have been great lovers of holiness, and great delighters in holiness, and great prizers of holiness, and great admirers of holiness, and great countenancers of holiness, and great encouragers of holiness, and great promoters of holiness, and great followers after holiness, and great experiencers of the sweet and powerful operations of holiness in their own souls. And oh that this might be all your honor and happiness, to be in all respects as famous for holiness, as any of your gender has been before you.
Christ has prayed as much for your souls, as he has for the souls of others; and he has paid as much for your souls, as he has for the souls of others; and he has sweat, and wept, and bled as much for your souls, as he has for the souls of others; and he has suffered, and satisfied as much for your souls, as he has for the souls of others; and he has purchased and prepared as great and as glorious things for your souls, as he has for the souls of others, if you will be but a holy people to him: and what does all this speak out—but an unspeakable readiness and willingness in Jesus Christ to sanctify you, and save you, as well as others?
All knowing men can tell you, that many ladies and gentlewomen in all ages have been very famous for all natural, moral, spiritual, and acquired excellencies; yes, more famous than many men who have done worthily in their generation; and by their attainments you may easily see what is possible for you to attain unto, both in respect of gifts and grace. [We might write volumes on this subject: there is so much said in scripture and history upon this account; but a touch must suffice, etc.] Of all things, gracious examples are most awakening, convincing, and encouraging; for in them you may see that both the attainment of holiness, and the exercise of holiness, is possible, though difficult. In eyeing of examples, it is always best to eye the highest, the holiest, and the worthiest examples; for, as he who shoots at the sun, though he falls short of his mark—yet will shoot higher than he who aims only at a shrub; so those who set up the highest examples of holiness for their mark, for their imitation, will certainly attain to greater degrees of holiness, than those who propose to themselves the lowest examples of holiness for their pattern and imitation.
Well, Ladies and Gentlewomen—Do you think that it is good to be going to hell—that it is good dwelling with the devouring fire, that it is good dwelling with everlasting burnings, that it is good forever to be separated from the glorious presence of God? Isaiah 33:14; 2 Thes. 1:7-10. Do you think that it is good to be forever to lie a-sweltering under the wrath of an infinite just God, and to abide forever and ever under those pains and torments which are endless, easeless, hopeless, and remediless? Do you think that it is good to be associated, and fettered with devils and damned spirits to all eternity? Oh no, this cannot be good; for the very serious thoughts of these things are enough to raise a hell on this side hell, in our hearts! Oh then, Ladies and Gentlewomen, pray that you may be holy; hear that you may be holy; read that you may be holy; and with all your might press after holiness, and pursue hard after holiness—as after the one thing necessary; for without holiness you will as certainly go to hell, as holy people shall certainly go to heaven! And this you will find as clearly and fully proved in this following treatise, as heart can wish.
Oh that you would forever remember this, that without all question, you shall never be saved, unless you are sanctified; you shall never be truly and eternally happy, unless you are really holy—unless God should do five things, which are not possible for him to do—namely,
1. Change his purpose;
2. Make null and void his decree;
3. Make a new gospel;
4. Find out a new way to heaven; and
5. Ungod himself.
God must undo himself and ungod himself, if ever he makes you happy before he has made you holy; and therefore, oh, what infinite cause have you to read this following treatise, and to study this treatise, and to meditate on this treatise, and to pray over this treatise, and to look up to heaven for counsel and strength to make such an improvement of the means, helps, and directions which are here prescribed for the attaining of holiness, as that you may be made really holy, that so you may be everlastingly happy!
IV.If this treatise should fall into the hands of any faithful, serious, gracious, conscientious, laborious ministers' hands, as I suppose it may, I would then say, sirs, let my weak endeavors be a spur, a provocation to you to lay out your choicest and your chief gifts, parts, strength, time, and opportunities—to promote holiness of life, and holiness in doctrine, worship, discipline, and in all your sacred communions. Certainly, had we all eyed holiness more, and preached holiness more, and practiced holiness more, and cried up holiness more, and encouraged holiness more, and countenanced holiness more—the countenance both of God and man might have been set more pleasingly towards us than they are this day. When once the paycheck comes to be more in ministers' eyes than holiness; and when their studies and endeavors are more to make men proselytes to this or that doctrine, this or that form, this or that party—than to make men holy—it is no wonder if God writes out "bitter things" against them. I doubt not but providential dispensations have had such a teaching virtue in them, as to lead you to lay your fingers upon several such-like sores, and to mourn over them, and to justify the Holy One of Israel, who is holy in all his ways, and righteous in all his works. [Be it remembered this was written at the time of the "Ejection" of the Two Thousand, of whom Brooks was one.—editor]
Truly, brethren, I have always looked upon the great work of the ministry to lie in two things: first, in making unholy men holy; and, secondly, in making those who are already holy to be more and more holy. First to beget holiness, and then to nurse up holiness; first to bring souls to Christ, and then to build up souls in Christ, is without all question the work of works which should be most in every minister's eye, and which should always lie nearest and warmest upon every minister's heart, etc. And, through grace, I have made this my grand design in the course of my ministry, and throughout all my writings; and now it yields me that joy, that comfort, that contentment, and that satisfaction, that I would not be without for all the world. Besides, I know it will turn most to my account at the great day.
Oh that all of you who yet have any opportunities and advantages in your hands to preach the everlasting gospel would make this your great business, to promote holiness, and to exalt and lift up holiness in the world! For as this great principle of holiness shall gain ground upon the hearts, consciences, and lives of men; so all the things of Antichrist, and all the trade of Antichrist, and all those grand mischiefs and miseries that threaten the sons of men, will fall before it—as Dagon fell before the ark.
V.If this treatise should fall into the hands of any of God's sanctified ones, of whatever degree or rank they are of, as I suppose it may fall into the hands of many such, I would then say, Dear friends, in this treatise you will find many strong motives to provoke you to "perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord," and many special means to enable you to "perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord," and many evidences whereby you may certainly and infallibly know whether you have attained to any considerable height of holiness or not. And in the opening of these things, you will find that great doctrine about degrees of glory in heaven to be asserted and proved, and the objections against it to be fairly dismissed, etc.
VI.Reader, if you are one that to this very day are in an unsanctified estate, and an enemy to holiness, or a scoffer at holiness, or a secret despiser of holiness, or a desperate opposer of holiness, or a bitter persecutor of holiness, then I would commend this following treatise, before any I know extant in the world, to the service of your soul. For I know of no other treatise which is so calculated and fitted up for that purpose as this is. Read and judge. This I will assure you, O you unsanctified soul, that the grand design of this book is your salvation; it is to make you really holy, that you may be eternally happy. And of this you may be confident—namely, that I shall follow these poor labors with my earnest prayers, that they may be blessed to the internal and eternal welfare of your soul, and that they may issue in the conviction, conversion, and salvation of your soul.
I shall send this treatise forth into the world with Jacob's blessing and prayer for his sons, "May God Almighty send you mercy in the sight of the man," Gen. 43:14, etc., in the sight of the proud man that he may be humbled; and in the sight of the hardened man—that he may be softened; and in the sight of the carnal man—that he may be spiritualized; and in the sight of the polluted man—that he may be washed; and in the sight of the unsanctified man that he may be sanctified; and in the sight of the ignorant man—that he may be enlightened; and in the sight of the stubborn man—that he may be bowed; and in the sight of the unconverted man—that he may be changed; and in the sight of the lost man—that he may be saved.
Christian reader, I suppose by this time that I have almost tired you in reading, as I have myself in writing—and therefore I shall presently draw to a close; only, before I take my leave of you, give me leave to say, that it is impossible to find a book printed without errata, even though the printer had Argus' eyes. Notwithstanding all the care that has been taken, you will find some mistakes of the printer. I know the Christian reader, who is daily sensible of the erratas of his life, will do me the courtesy, and cast a mantle of love over my mistakes.
Reader, I do not offer you that which cost me nothing. This treatise that now I put into your hand is the fruit of much prayer and serious study. If you find any profit and benefit by it—give Christ all the glory—the crown of praise befits no head but his. Only when you are in the mount—let me lie near your heart. Oh, pray earnestly, pray fervently, pray frequently, and pray unweariedly—that I may have much of the fresh anointings of the Holy Spirit, that my communion with a holy God may every day rise higher and higher; and that all my transactions, both before God and man; may savor of some heights of holiness: so you will the more strongly oblige me to be your soul's servant in all gospel engagements,
Thomas Brooks, 1662.