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the sharpest severity of his justice) refuseth to give a particular account of his matters and motions, hath wonderfully stooped and condescended to give this general, sweetly fatisfactory account, That they shall work for good, even their spiritual good and profit, the purging of fin, and their further participation of bis boliness: O that all the graciously sincere lovers of God, and the effe&tually called according to his purpose, might, from the lively faith of this, be perswaded and prevailed with to set themselves down at the receipt of these customs from the many crosses and affli&ions that come their way, with a fixed resolution to suffer none of them to pass without paying the custom imposed by the King! The faithful, diligent, closs and constant following of this employ, meht would unspeakably inrich, and more than make up all their losses, infinitely beyond what gathering in the customs of the rareft and richest commodities of both the Indies could possibly do, were they all ingrofied and monopolized to that molt honourable society of the godly; and would help them to bear out a great spiritual rank and port, suitable to the ftate of the King, and as it becometh them that are privileged to be collectors of such customs under him.
'Tis now, noble Madan, a long time, not far from towards 30 years (whatever was before) fince your Ladyship was known by fome to be helped, thro' grace, seriously to fit down at the receipt of these customs from the cross and afflicting dispensations which then occured to you, whereby you did observably improve, better and increase your spirirual stock and state, fomeway to the admiration of standersby: and since that time, for most part of it, you have been, in the holy providence of God, tried with a tract of tribulations, each of them more trying than another; and some of them such, that I think (as once the blest author of this treatise on occasion of a sad and surprising stroke, the removal of the desire of his eyes, his gracious and faithful wife, after a while's filence, with much gravity and great composure of spirit, said, Who could perswade me to believe that ibis is good, if God bad not said it?) if all the world had said and (worn it, they could very hardly, if at all, have perswaded you to believe that they were good: But, fince God, that canno; lie, hath said it, there is no room left to debate or doubt of it, let be to deny it. And if your Ladyship (as I hope you have) hath been all this while gathering up the
cuftoms of spiritual good and gain, imposed upon these many, various, and great tribulations, wherewith the Lord, no doubt on a blessed design of singular good to you, hath thought fit to exercise you beyond most persons living, at least of your lo noble ftation and extraction; O what a vast stock and treasure of rich and soul-inriching precious experiences of the good and profit of all these afflictions and tribulations mol you needs have lying by you! What humility and soft walking ! what contrition and tenderness of heart! what frequency and fervency! what seriousness and spirituality in prayer! what fitting alone, and keeping silence, because he bath done it! what justifying of God, and ascribing righteousness to him, in all that he hath done! what sweet soliloquies, communings with the heart on the bed, self-searchings and examinations ! what delightfom meditations on God, and on his law ! what mortification of lufts! what deadness and deniedness to, and what weanedness from, all creature-comforts and delights of the sons of men ! what folicitous securing of the grand interest, amidst these shakings loose of all other
interests! what coveting of, and complacency in, fellowship with God the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, while your other fellowship is made desolate ! what accounting of all things, so much in account amongst men, to be but loss and dung in comparison of the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ the Lord! what growing disconformity to the world, by the renewing of your mind! what transforming into the image of God, from glory to glory,as by the Spirit of the Lord! what exemplary holiness in all manner of conversation! what poltponing of all particular and self-interests to the publick interest of his glory! what waitings and longings for the coming of his kingdom ! what desires and designs faithfully to serve your generation according to his will ! and, when that is done, what gronings to be unclotbed, and clothed upon with your boufe from above ! and what lively longings,with sweet submißions to his will, to be disolved, and to be with Jesus Chrift, which is best of all! How much in the mean time of a stranger's and pilgrim's deportment, with published, practical, plain declarations to the world that this is not your country, but that you are in expectation of one, even a beavenly country, so that God is not afbamed to be called gour
God! Finally, What practical and experimental knowledge of, and clear insight in, that notable and none-fuch art of making out of God, and making up in him, what is missing amongst the
creatures ! a little of whom can go far, inconceivably far,
empty and void room, thro'the removal of many and most choice creature.comforts! What possible loss or want is it that cannot be made up in him who is God allfufficient, and in whom, whatever is desirable and excellent amongst them all, is to be found in an eminently transcendent and infinitely more excellent way ; and from whom, as the inexhaustibly full fountain, and incomprehensibly vast, immense, boreless, boundless, and bottomless ocean of all delightful, desirable, imaginable, and possible perfections, the small drops, and little rivulets of seeming and painted perfeations, scattered amongst the creatures, issue forth ! ! beautiful and bleft fruits of afflictions, yet not brought forth by affli&tions of themselves, but by his own grace working together with, and by them ! a part of whose
royal and incommunicable prerogative it is (not communicate nor given out of his own hand to any dispensation, whether of ordinances, or of providences more smiling or more cross, abftra&ly from his blessing and grace) to teach to profit! If your Ladyship be not thus inriched, and if your stock and revenue be not thus bettered, I take it for granted that it is your burden, and more afflicting to you than all your other afflictions; and that it is withal (ingly aimed at by you, and diligently driven as your greatest design in the world. I could from my own particular certain knowledge and obfervation, long ago, and of late (having had the honour and happiness to be often in your company, and at some of the lowest ebbs of your outward prosperity) and from the knowledge of others more knowing and observing than I, say more of your rich incomes of gain and advanfage, of your improvement, of the countervailings of your damage, and of the up-makings of all your lofles this way, than either my fear of incursing the construction of a flatterer with such as do not know you as I do, will permit; or your christian modesty, fobriety and self-denial will admit : and to undertake to say all that might truly, and without complementing (too too ordinary in epiftles dedicatory) be said to this purpose, would be thought by your Ladyship as far below you to crave, or expect, as it would be above me suitably to perform.
Now, Madam, being fully perswaded that this favoury, sound, solid, soul-searching and soul-settling treatise, will
be acceptable to, and improved by your Ladyfhip, for furtherance of this your fpiriraal good and advantage, beyond what it will be to and by most others; I find no need of any long consultation with myselt, to whom to address its dedication; you having in my poor esteem, on many accounts, the deserved preference of many (to say no more) ladies of honour now living: and since withal I nothing doubt, had the precious, and now perfected author been alive, and minded the publication of it with a dedication to any noble la. dy, yourself would have been the person, of whom, I know, he had a high esteem, having himself, before his death, fignified his purpose of dedicating his piece on the Canticles to your Ladyship's noble and much-noted fifter-in-law, my lady viscountess of Kenmure. It needs no epistles of commendation to you, who was so throughly acquainted with its author ; the reading of it will abundantly commend itself, and as a piece, tho' pofthumous, of his work, commend him in the gates. I Thall only now say, which will much endear it to you, and to all the honeft-hearted students of holiness, that it is for most part very practical (and what is polemick in it, at that time much called for, is by a true information of the judgment directly levelled at a suitable practice) and your Ladyship knoweth, that the power, yea, the very foul and life of religion lieth in the due practice of it : and indeed we know no more in God's account than we do, thro' grace, singly and seriously design and endeavour to practise ; they all, and they only, baving a good understanding that do bis commandments; and to do and keep them, being his peoples • wisdom and underftanding in the fight of the nations, who hear of these ftatutes, and are constrained to say, Surely this is a wife and understanding people. The greatest measure of merely apprehensive and speculative knowledge of the truths and will of God, doth not make truly wise, because not wise to salvation ; nor evidenceth the persons that have it to be really happy, the Lord not having pronounced them to be fuch that only know, but who knowing these things do them; tho', alas, many, not at all, for but very little considering this, seek to know only, or mainly, that they themselves may know, or that they may make it known to others that they do know (a notable disappointment of the end of all found fcripfure-theology, which is as to the whole, and every parr, head, and article thereof, practice, and not mere speculation) the great
soul-ruining practical error of many profeffors of this knowing age upon the one hand; as there is another error in practice, lamentably incident to not a few well-meaning fouls, on the other hand, whereby,defiring and delighting only to hear, read, and know what speaks to their present case and spiritual exercise, or immediately presseth somewhat in practice, they much weary of, and listen but little to, what serveth for more full and clear information of their judgments in the literal meaning of the scriptures, in the do&trinal part of religion, and in what may increase, better, and advance their knowledge in the principles thereof, till they be found in the faith, eftabli(bed in the present truth, and have their loins girt about with it: whereby it comes to pass, that altho' some such may, thro' grace, have chosen the better part which will not be taken from them; yet they are not only thro' their ignorance filled with many confusions, and with perplexing, and almost inextricable fears and doubts about their own spiritual itate and condition, but are also imminently exposed to the dreadful hazard of being catched and carried away as a ready prey by every error and seet-master, plausibly pretending but any the least respect to the practice and power of godliness; which hath been very prejudicial to the church of God in all ages, and most observably in this, as there is much ground to fear it may yet further bé, if we be tried with warm and suitable tentations. Happy therefore, yea, thrice happy they, who are,by the skill and conduct of him that is given to be a Leader and Pilot to his people, helped to ftem the port, and to fteer a straight and steady course betwixt the shelves and rocks of these extremes on the right and left hand, on which thousands have split and made shipwreck; and to make it their business, as to seek diligently after knowledge of the truths of religion, to cry and life up their voice for it as for filver and for hid treasure, and to run to and fro, thro' the use of all divinely appointed means, that knowledge may be increased; so, vigorously to drive it as their design, to practise all they know,and to have their practice foot-side with, and marching up the full length of, their knowledge and profeffi
That your Ladyßip may more and more (as you thro' grace already in a great measure do) thus stem the port, fetching Tome more wind to fill your sails from Gud's blessing on this judgment, inftru&ing and affection-moving practical treatise, till you arrive with a plerophory of faith, with up-fails, top and top-gallant, at that peaceful port and heavenly harbour of reft, prepared for the people of God, is the serious defire of,