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have habituate their tongue to drop fatyrs against what is good, whether persons or things; yet it is enough to guard against the prejudice of what they take liberty to fay. 2. Consider, that the most common words and ordinary phrases, in use amongst a people, may, by the greatest orator, be very pertinently used, for illustrating and presling his purpose: nay, in some cases, these have a special emphasis, beyond what can be wrapt up, in a great many more compt words, and seemingly neat exprefhons, and then, they are fo far from being a blemish to a discourse, that they seem to give a kind of life, and add a certain lustre to the whole frame; and thou wilt find it often fall out here, that the author hath so happy a dexterity in making the most common (and fometimes contemptible) phrase, with a graceful sweetness, fubfervient to his purpofe, that let the greatest master of words, alter but one of thefe words, or change one of thefe expresfions (which if they stood not there, might almost seem a barbarism) he marrs what he undertook to mend, and while he endeavours to correct the author, he leaves himself to be put in amongst the errata. Consider that a great many of the perfons to whom he wrote, were no scholars, nay, had fo little acquaintance, with that, which passeth in the world for elegancy of speech, that he had as good have said nothing at all to them, as have made use of a-, ny other words than what are pitched upon in expressing his purpose; and fo his design being to make affection, or to move it in the hearts of these to whom he wrote, there was a necessity to fuit his stile to their capacity, which condescension in him, is yet managed with so much fpiritual prudence and discretion, as it is without debafing high matter, or giving the least rational ground to mock at spiritual myfteries : yea, I may fay further, that there is fo much majesty in the strain, as that the Townefs of the stile is abundantly thereby made up: and further, i might ask thee, if thou who makes the challenge doeit pretend to be a mafter of reafon, whether he is the best orator, who can with the least noise cast fire into the affections of those to whom he speaks or writes and bring down the higheft mysteries in religion, to the capacity of the meanest hearer and reader, or he who wraps up plain truths and obvious purposes, in fach an obscurity of phrase, and perplexing intricacy of words, as carries the matter quite beyond the reach of a vulgar capacity, without making any other impreffon upon the mind of the hearer, than that the man hath forgotten his message, and while he seeks himself, flights his Master's business? It often creates also a suspicion, that the writer or speaker either desires not to be understood, or, while he endeavours to foar too high above others, that he hath fallen into such a confusion, as he knows not where to find himfelf: and if thou concede here what with reason thou canst not deny, thou haft granted all against thyself, which I need feek, for putting thee to filence. Consider, thai though there be fome here written to, of the greatest quality in the nation, and a great many others, who are eminent for their understanding and parts, as well as their grace; yet as these of the greateft quality and parts,,

may reap advantage, by what hath been written to the meanest and most obscure person! God in his providence led his fervant to speak to these of understanding and parts, so, that what was particularly intended for them, might be of special use and advantage to every one : and thus all occasion of carping is taken away; unless, amongst the rest of regularities of this time the episcopal authority, be interposed, to make us read and understand that axiom backward, bonum quo communius eo melius, which if it be, I have no more to say, but that it is of a piece with the rest of their reformation. I suppose by this time, it may be thought, I have said too much upon

this head, since it would seem that some things ought rather to be said, for making many things in them plain that are mysterious and dark, than to fay so much for taking off prejudice, because of some common words and expressions; butas

as to that, I shall not undertake it: for there are many things in them, only intelligible by tafting: and he who wants that commentary, will never understand this text. I have no more to say, either for the one or the other, but if any dislike them, he may

let them alone; for I intend to obtrude them upon none, who distastes them; yet I cannot forbear to advise even such, fo far to consult their own reputation, as, by speaking against what the author hath here written, not to discover that secret to the world, that they are persons void of a gracious principle, to whom the things that are of God are unfavoury: the wind of thy mouth accompanied with all the venom thou canst vomit up, will not blat the author's reputation, it will only be a blazing of thy own shame, and then thou wilt see thyfełf fo unhappy, as to have hit the mark at which thou didft not aim : for without doing him any hurt, who is far above thy reach, thy tongue falls upon thy own head, and in stricking at one whom thou canft not wound, thy sword redounds back upon thyself, and enters into thine own bowels! but if thou remainest a man of impersuasion, and hast fo much pleasure in publishing thine own shame, I cannot help it, it is sufficient for me, to have warned thee of thy hazard; nor shall I endeavour henceforth to deprive the world of their liberty (since thou wilt have it fo) to look upon thee, according to the character which thou hast given of thyself, and that is, Deeft aliquid intus, to make thee a man and a Christian : and since this brutish shape pleases thee, thou mayest go eat grass and let alone this bread, which is only designed for children: and so I leave thee to make use of that liberty, of saying what thou pleases, which thou hast now purchased with the loss of thy own reputation.

If any think, it had been more convenient, to have concealed the names of those to whom the author wrote, for some reasons obvious, in regard of the present lamentable posture of affairs (when it is almost fufficient, to make a man guilty, that ever he was really zealous for God) I have only this to say for myself, that I designed their honour and not their prejudice or hurt in prefixing their names : neither can I well imagine (whatever others may apprehend) what prejudice they can sustain, by this; since none, or very few of them, come from the author, as returns to any thing they had written to him; and there being no law, either discharging him to write, or any persons to receive his letters, there can be no transgression upon their part, and so nothing to ground a prejudice, or found a rational plea against them; and much less in that their names are prefixed; or if there be any thing in this blameworthy, I alone am in the tranfgression, who have done it without consulting themselves, or asking their confent; yet in order to the fatisfaction of any, who may be offended at what is done, I have this to say for myself further, that I was induced to it, first, that thereby it might appear these were indeed the very Letters, which that faithful fuf-' ferer and witness of Jesus Christ wrote (though there is fufficient in the Atile and strain to put this beyond debate) and no forgeries. 2. Many of these worthy perfons being removed (whereby the church of God is at a teen and sad lofs, in that she is deprived of fo many, who would have weeped and made fupplication on her behalf in this day of her distress, when not a few of her friends have dealt treacherously with her, and are become her enemies) their posterity might think themselves wronged, if I should have deprived their worthy predecessors, by fupPrelling their names, and smothering their affection to the work of God,


of the honour of making their faithfulness known to the world : and truly, I judged it the least that was due to the memory of these, who ought to be had in everlasting remembrance, to erect this poor monument over their grave, whereby they may live amongst the posterity, when they are gone, as persons who obtained mercy of the Lord, to be faithful in their generation : and that when the account of such comes to be taken, it may be faid, This and that man was born there. 3. I did it to encourage the posterity of such, to be followers of the faith and patience of their worthy progenitors, and that they may not, without shame and horror think of declining, or turning aside, either to the right or left hand, from the way of these dear relations, who by following the Lord fully, in an evil time, left them a noble pattern, worthy of imitation. 4. As for such who are yet alive, I hope they will think, that God by this providence, is making an honourable mention of their fidelity before the nations, and is remembring for them, the love of their espousals, when they went:after him; hereby to engage them, to cleave more closely, and adhere more firmly to him, with full purpose of heart, when the generality have gadded about to change their way, and many of his professed disciples have gone back, and are like to walk no more with him : and upon the other hand, God will have this to be a witness before the world, against any of them, who shall depart from the good way of the Lord, and be offend. ed in him, because of persecution : I hope whatever hazard threaten these who abide in Christ's company, that they will never forsake him, nor give him, nor give him cause to say, What iniquity have ye found in me, that ye have gone far from me. But if it should prove otherwise, they may be sure that he whose foul hath no pleasure in any man that'draws back, and hates the work of such as turn aside, will count himself engaged in a peculiar way, to lead them forth with the workers of iniquity; but-we hope for better things of them all, though we thus speak : if none of these reasons which moved me to do this, be strong enough, then let it be judged my weakness : for it is more fit, that I should pass in the world as such (which is no great mistake) than these honourable and worthy persons, should suffer any prejudice, by a deed whereto they had not the least accession.

Reader, much pains hath been taken, in collecting thefe together, that they might be in the hands of many (a thing greatly desired of a long time by the godly) which have been hitherto only in some broken and imperfect parcels, in the hands of a few : several of the most correct copies that could be had, have been carefully compared, and many faults thereby corrected, which were crept in, by, their being often transcribed"; and that by unskilful hands. If it fall out so, (as I suppose it shall not often be found) that they who have the Autographs by them, perceive any difference in a word or sentence, betwixt this printed copy and these, let them impute it to my want of the principals;

for though I had a good number of them, yet it was not possible for me to get the most part : in some very few places also, to the end that this book might be of more univefal use, it may be that a Scotish word, which would have darkened the sense, or rendered the sentence wholly uninteligable to strangers, is either changed into fome equivalent one, or a synonimous term inserted by it, but in most places these words are retained, without any alteration; because either alteration, or addition, would have made them less taking with, and acceptable to them, for whom they were at first written, and to those for whom they are now principally intended; because the life and emphasis of the phrase, is often found to lie in that very word. But having kept


thee under too long an arrest in the entry, I leave thee now to peruso these profitable epistles, which are an account of the many sweet hours and comfortable soliloquies, which that eminent faint and sufferer had with God in the furnace of his affliction : wherein there is much to be seen, beyond the ordinary attainment of a Christian, even who hath made some remarkable progress and is no small proficient in the ways of God. I nothing doubt, but when thou perceiveit, while thou readeit, how much pure zeal to God, doth burn in these lines, thou wilt lament the loss of such a blessed inftrument, now, when the church of God is brought so very low, and there are few of all the sons whom she hath nourished and brought up, to take her by the hand : I grant it is both a rational and religious sorrow; for when we remember the many eminent lights (the removal of whom, hath brought a fad and dark night upon the church) which did lately shine amongst us, and must say, They are gone who were our faithful guides, it would almost seem pardonable, to abandon ourselves to forrow, and refuse to be conforted : Quis talia fando tempéret a lachrimis? Yet give me leave to suggest these things : (1.) Let not the tear so blind thine eye, as not to observe the goodness of God, who gave us such : it was a faying of an eminent and exercised Christian (worthy to be remembered in this

prefent case, and to be put upon record for pofterity) perceiving many sorrowful, upon the removal of one of the most burning and thining lights, that Britain had to boast of (that great interpreter Nir. Durham I mean) Turn your tears and fighs for this loss (faid that worthy perfon) tho it seem to you almost irreparable (an age hardly producing such another) into fongs of praises; and do not fo indulge your forrow, because the Master hath called home an ambassador, who did fo faithfully and successfully negotiate for him; as ye forget in the mean time to praise the Lord of the harvest, who thrust forth such a labourer into his vineyard : let not the greatness of your grief make you forget the riches of his goodness to the church of Christ in Scotland, in that there was a Mr. Durham to die out of it : fo I say, when in reading of these, thou remembers that the worthy author is gone to his rest; yet be not guilty of so much ingratitude, thro' the excess of thy grief, as to forget God's care of, and kindness to the church of Scoté Iand, who amongst others gave her a Mr. Rutherfoord : one who was not only famous at home and abroad for his great learning; but such a minister of the gospel, as I suppose there is not a godly minister in the nation, who knew his painfulness, his tenderneis, his zeal, his shining and gospel-adorning conversation, that will think he' wrongs himself, in giving the preference to him, whose watching and weeping and unwearied pains, to propagate the truth, and profit the souls of men, made him without a match or equal, and left deep convictions of fhort-coming, even upon them, who may with a rational confidence, expect the approbation of, Well done, good and faithful servant, at the day of their appearance, and die in the faith of this, that when the great Shepherd shall appear, they shall receive a crown of glory, that fadeth not away. (2.) If no other consideration can dry up thy tears, or divert thy sorrow,' while thou dost remember thy own and the churches loss; yet remember that this is sufficient to make thee mourn in hope, that the residue of the Spirit is with him. We cannot, I grant, weep, back again (though it is like some would be content to weep themselves blind, if that were lawful and would do it) our famous and faithful Knoxes, Davidsons, Welches, Bruces, Hendersons, Ruther foords, Gilespies, Gutheries, with a great many besides, or their brethren and conpanions, who did build and fight with them, and


were the restorers of the breaches amongst us, whereby they obtained a good report; and are at this day of blessed memory indeed; but is their no hope to see them alive in other mens persons ? I grant there is but little appearance of that for the present; for, alas ! may we fay, where is there a man of that spirit to be found ?. Yet let us not add this to all the rest of our provocations in this wilderness-lot, to limit the Holy One of Israel ; since these had nothing but what they did receive; he can furnish the church with men of the fame parts and zeal, with men who will shine in light, so that their enemies must lay their hand upon their mouth when they have spoken; and burn in love to God and his interests : and truly it' concerns the people of God, to be much in importuning him, that he would again give us fuch standard-bearers, and that he would remember us now, in our low estate, by raising up fuch, who may be as the chariots and horsemen of Ifrael, when the spirit of most is under such a faint, and the men of might do not find their hands : if we were up and doing in this, which is one great part of our work in such a fad time, and gave him no rest, who knows but he would yet breathe upon many, who are now as dry bones, without life or motion, and make them stand up for him, and plead his cause against them, who have lifted up their head against heaven and their heel against his people? They who by falling asleep, gill their hair was cut, that they were not in cafe to shake themselves as at other times, when their enemies were upon them, might yet {poil their adverfaries sport, and bring down their Babel about their cars, if the spirit of the Lord.came upon them as at other times: or if this were not to be expected, he could raise up a generation, who would serve him with more zeal and faithfulness, than we have done; and that in such a number, as should make his church fay, Who hath begotten me all these? And where have they been? It may be that he who waits to be gracious, is waiting to be intreated to do this good thing for us : furely if we were a people of prayer, and particularly for this church and nation, mercy, we might be surprized now, when we have scarce a token for good, and when our luke-warm temper has banished the faith of fuch a mercy almost out of the earth, with such a return as that, I will clothe thy priests with salvation, and thy Saints ball get Shout aloud for jog: I will pour down such a plentiful measure of the Spirit upon them, that by their zeal and faithfulness, the years which this canker-worm and cater-pillar of luke-warmness hath eaten op, shall be restored unto you feven-fold; which would carry alongst with it, the accomplishment of that other great and gospel-promise, His enemies will I clothe with Jhame, but upon himself all his crown Jourish. Faxis Deus, o festinet, should be the constant echo of our hearis.

Reader, there is one thing more I have to acquaint thee with, and fo I have done, and that is to tell thee, that I have made bold for this once, to fend thefe Epistles abroad into the world, without the Prelates Imprimatur: if he plcase to take this for an Apology, that the author fought not bis permission to write them, which einboldened me to transmit them to thy hands, without his approbation, he may; for I am not in an humour to give them any other account of this action. I know it is very probable, that the fate of these may be the fire; for our late furious prelates (that Draco volans which being got upon the wing, spouts down fire upon the church, whereby the tabernacles of God are burnt up through the land: for the appearance of this fiery merear, did always portend somewhat fatal to the church, to follow ppon it) are a little more hot than their predecessors : it is true, these


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