By Thomas Brooks, (1608 - 1680)
"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us--for we
And now, if you please, read the work, and receive this counsel from me.
First, You must know that every man cannot be excellent, yet every man may be useful. An iron key may unlock the door with a golden treasure behind it; yes, iron can do some things that gold cannot.
Secondly, Remember, it is not hasty readingóbut serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that make them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the bee's touching of the flower, which gathers honeyóbut her abiding for a time upon the flower, which draws out the sweet. It is not he who reads mostóbut he who meditates most, who will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.
Thirdly, Know that it is not the knowing, nor the talking, nor the reading manóbut the doing man, that at last will be found the happiest man. "If you know these things, blessed and happy are you if you DO them." "Not everyone that says, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heavenóbut he who DOES the will of my Father that is in heaven" (John 13:17, Matt. 7:21). Judas called Christ Lord, Lord; and yet betrayed him, and has gone to his place. Ah! how many Judases have we in these days, that kiss Christ, and yet betray Christ; that in their words profess himóbut in their works deny him; that bow their knee to him, and yet in their hearts despise him; that call him Jesus, and yet will not obey him for their Lord.
Reader, If it is not strong upon your heart to practice what you read, to what end do you read? To increase your own condemnation? If your light and knowledge be not turned into practice, the more knowing a man you are, the more miserable a man you will be in the day of recompense; your light and knowledge will more torment you than all the devils in hell. Your knowledge will be that rod that will eternally lash you, and that scorpion that will forever bite you, and that worm that will everlastingly gnaw you; therefore read, and labor to know, that you may doóor else you are undone forever.
When Demosthenes was asked, what was the first part of an orator, what the second, what the third? he answered, Action! The same may I say. If any should ask me, what is the first, the second, the third part of a Christian? I must answer, Action! As that man who reads that he may know, and that labors to know that he may do, will have two heavensóa heaven of joy, peace and comfort on earth, and a heaven of glory and happiness after death.
Fourthly and lastly, If in your reading you will cast a serious eye upon the margin, you will find many sweet and precious notes, that will oftentimes give light to the things you read, and pay you for your pains with much comfort and profit. So desiring that you may find as much sweetness and advantage in reading this Treatise as I have found, by the overshadowings of heaven, in the studying and writing of it; I recommend you "to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among those who are sanctified" (Acts 20:32).
Your soul's servant in every office of the gospel,