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not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it. O that these words might sink deep into the hearts of all men; then would they not draw water any longer from the impure cisterns of human wisdom and corrupted writings, but they would resort to the true fountain of life, Christ Jesus, and draw from his doctrine the pure water of eternal life, which would become in them wells of divine wisdom springing up into everlasting life, and far transcending all the wisdom of this world.
Well, then, all ye fellow travelers to eternity, into whose hands this book may fall, peruse it in the spirit of true devotion, and criticise upon it not according to your own sentiments, lest it may become a savor of death unto death; but consider it well, and weigh it in the balance of God's word, and then, if you give ear to the testimony of Christ and his Spirit, and to the witness of your own conscience, it may become a savor of life unto life. Would to God that you can read it with
the same feelings and emotions, with the same openness of heart and mind, which, by the grace of God, I experienced while writing it; I rest assured it would then produce within you its blessed operation.
But to return: In this little book you will no doubt meet with doctrines which are not at all pleasing to your nature, and which will not quadrate with your carnal wisdom; this, however, must perish in you, or you cannot understand this discourse, for it must be spiritually discerned.
Now, I venture to say, that in this book there may be found medicine for every soul that knows how to make a proper use of it; for he who is impenitent and carnal-minded will have his dangerous disease pointed out, as also the means necessary to effect his recovery; nevertheless the medicines for diseases of the soul taste bitter and unpleasant, are acrid and pungent, so much so, that a person who is not sensible of the extreme danger of his sickness, will despise and murmur at them, and as a matter of course, will be unwilling to take them. Again, I am persuaded, that all who feel their sickness and
experience the pain of their sins, will employ the means prescribed for their cure. For these in particular, namely, for all health-seeking souls who are scattered abroad in the world, like sheep having no true shepherd, is my heart's concern, that I may serve them with my humble talents; for their salvation is near my heart, if, haply, I might win some to Christ, and promote their eternal felicity by means of this humble performance.
This work is likewise intended for all my beloved brethren and sisters in God, here and in other places, for admonition and self-exexamination, as also for their encouragement and consolation, so that every one may exert himself in order to please God, and walk worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ; for it is his will that we preserve our soul and body pure and undefiled from all the unrighteousness of sin and of false doctrine, that he may have pleasure in us; for it is his will that we render our members weapons of righteousness, and press forward with him, as spiritual soldiers, in the contest against the world, the devil, sin and the flesh. But this appears in
the eyes of the world to be an irksome and laborious life, yet to pardoned souls it is a pleasant and heart-quickening life, which they bring forth, after godliness, in the mind and disposition of the Lord Jesus; for they are the good trees which bring forth no corrupt fruit; they are the fruitful branches in the vine Jesus, which can bring forth no other fruit (if they abide in him) than what partakes of the nature of the vine; for they are meek and lowly of heart; they are spiritual and spiritually minded; they are peaceable and patient, merciful and compassionate; their hatred is changed into love, their envy into forbearance, their life is pure and undefiled, their words are gracious, serving for edification; their yea is yea, and their nay, nay; they resist not evil by force; they contend not by law in temporal concerns, but much rather manifest love towards those who inflict injuries upon them, by doing them good, and even praying for them; they impart freely to persons in need and distress; they walk forward within the pale of godliness, nor ever stop till they arrive at the boundary of perfection; in
the contest they divest themselves of every encumbrance, lest, being overcome, they should lose the crown of life.
This must be the tenor of our life on this side the grave, if we think of inheriting with Christ, in the regions of bliss, the never fading crown of everlasting life, as may be seen in the connection of Christ's sermon on the mount.
But this is the cost which we are to count, and the great and momentous undertaking, concerning which it is incumbent upon us to sit down and consider fully and dispassionately, whether we shall ever be able to accomplish it. Christ and his doctrine must serve for the foundation upon which the whole building is to be laid and the superstructure erected; and for this purpose (inasmuch as we are too poor of ourselves, either to commence this edifice, or bring it to a state of completion) we are necessitated to secure the kind assistance of God, and obtain the right and privilege of entering his treasury and taking out such funds as may be found requisite for the carrying on and completion of this vast and important design. That is to