TO THE PRESENT READER, ESPECIAL∣ly to his once-Hearers a∣bout LONDON; THE AVTHOR WISHETH all peace and goodnesse.
MVch honoured, and respected in the Lord; its no time to dwel upon pri∣vate passages, all our spare houres are too few for publique prayers and praises: * of those I have said some∣thing already, I only adde this for the present. The estate of the Church abroad, or States assembled at home, challenge our utmost per∣formances in that kinde. Of these I cannot (indeed, who can?) say enough. The mercies of God are wonderfull towards us, as men, as Christians, as English Christians. When I lay our selves by other Nations and Churches, I cannot reade what Moses said to his Israel, and not make it ours. Happy art thou O England, who is like vnto thee, O People saved by the Lord? &c. Deut. 33.29. For what Nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them (the onely glory of a Nation) Page [unnumbered]as the Lord our God is, in all things that we call upon him for Deut. 4.7. What publique suite did we ever preferre that did not prosper? instance one; nay judge, what could have beene done more for this Vineyard, that the Lord hath not done in it? Esa 5.4. If peace be worth thanks, we have had it, if plenty, wee have had it, if victory, wee have had it, if the Gospel, if all, wee have had all; if wee have lost anything, thanke unthankefulnesse, if we loose more, it will bee our owne fault: for God takes no forfeiture, but what unthankeful∣nesse makes. Let us not then stand still till the Lord rece∣ver his owne from us, as once from Israel: but whilst he bles∣ses us, * let us present him with his owne, and shew our selves truly thankefull, whilst he is infinitely bountifull. Now true thankefulnesse, is not a lesson soone learned; 1. the thing it selfe is made up of many parcels: 2. the party that un∣dertakes it must be more than a man: David, Psal. 9.1. inti∣mates so much, * when for the matter, hee delivers it in foure parts: * whereof, the first is acknowledgment of God in all, the second, a cypharing and summing up of speciall mercies, the third an expression of spirituall joy in God, as well as in his gifts, and the fourth, a dedication of our songs and selves to his Name, Vers. 1.2. And for the manner, presses, 1. integrity, for subject & object, Ver. 1.2. sincerity, for affection and end, Vers. 2. If then we intend true thankefulnesse, we must so see Gods Name written upon every token of his love, that with∣all, wee keepe a register of the chiefest, and so looke upon the gift, that in it we relish the giver, and sacrifice our selves to his Name. Wee bee too short, if wee arise no higher than to Gods blessings: the blessed God is farre and farre beyond all created blessings; he is better than health, than wealth, than peace, * than grace: all these be but streames that lead us to the fountain, but beams that guide our eyes to that father of lights, to that Sonne of righteousness, * God reconciled, God incarnate; God, made ours by his own gift and goodnesse, is our peace, our helpe, * our health, our life, our every thing, as David can never say enough this way: and when wee see, and taste, and feele all comfort, sweetnesse, happinesse in him, and there upon unite our Page [unnumbered]selves to him, be transformed into him, passe into him, as that holy Austen speakes, and make him our joy, our feare, our trust, our Lord, our food, our house, our covering, our all, then, then are we truly thankefull. Let us not then looke upon health, peace, other blessings in themselves, looke upon them as they bee in God; see him healing, blessing, saving: nay looke not so much what hee is to us, as what hee is to the whole body, nay, what he is in his Christ, nay, what in his blessed selfe: how glori∣ous, how rich, how good, how far above all creatures, * all prai∣ses, all thoughts: O the pretiousnes of his thoughts to us! O the height, depth, breadth, length of his love in Christ: these cannot be fadomed by a David, by a Paul: but O the bound∣lesse, bottomlesse sea of beauty, glory, excellency, power, wise∣dome, goodnesse, that is in the fountaine it selfe! O the match∣lesse splendor that is in that un approcheable light, that no mor∣tall eye, no immortall Angell can be hold; here not to loose our selves in admiration, is not to loue; not to beer apt and ravi∣shed with the Church, is not to praise aright: Aad thus we shall never praise, till we see the great God in the least mercy, * and an universall good in particular blessings, nay, when wee doe so, unlesse God open the mouth and enlarge the heart, our lips will not praise him: therefore we must have helpe from God if ever we will sing to him: * For as no man can define God without God, so neyther can he praise him. Labour therefore to be sild with the fulnes of God, with the Word of God, Col. 3.16. with the Spirit of God, Eph. 5.13. with the comforts and good∣nesse of God, and then our mouthes will be full of songs, then we shall sing to his Name, as the Prophet saith, * magnifie him, live to him, doe all to him, which is true life, true thanke∣fulnesse. This is that thankes giving which here I call upon every Reader to performe, especially upon my selfe, and my Christian friends about the City. It hath pleased God to wound and heale us as he de did Hezekiah, there are not ma∣ny of us, who did not (I thinke) receive in our selves the sentence of death, is Hezekiah did: now we are restored to life againe, what should we doe, but sing with him all the dayes of our life? I have begun to you, as I was then able, when God Page [unnumbered](after personall and domesticall sicknesses) brought me into his House; I beseech you second me, and let not any preju∣dice frustrate my exhortation.
Truth it is, I have not beene able to answer your loves, your desires; but reckon that amongst my crosses, not my faults: Tis true, I undertooke you with much feare, but that did slow frons your sufficiency, and mine owne inabilities. I left you quickly; tis true, and in so doing, if I did not deserve praise, here I am, I did pitry. Beloved, I never had, I never looke to have in this pilgrimage, that comfort in my labours that there I found: What dashed so hopefull beginnings, time will speake when I am speechlesse. In the meane, I am upon a better argument: When I speake of man, I speake of a poore nothing; I am now in speech of the great King, Psal 45.1. When I speake of mens infirmities (as needs I must, if I will heale my selfe) I am raking in a channell; * whilst I am con∣templating Gods excellencies, I am in a garden of spices: pardon me, if I preferre this to that; and in case I forget my owne name to magnifie Gods, and be content to receive a scar, that many may escape a wound, hold mee excused: it suffices mee that wisedome is satisfied. As for wilfulnesse (which will not yeeld to truth, because tis wedded to fancy, and passion) and ignorance, * (which names vertues and vices from the e∣vent) they are unsatisfiable. Me thinks this conclusion should content modesty. If at any time, in any thing I have given offence, I humbly crave a par•on; where none is given, none will bee taken by the charitable: For the rest, I say with that Angelicall man, * let them be honest, it sufficeth, though I bee as a reede, 2. Cor. 1.17. as a Reprobate, 2. Cor. 13.7. And now my worthy friends, let mee proceede in my exhortation. Should I not love you, I were not a man: for your love to mee hath exceeded all desert and expectation; and all the while some (by occasion of your call) have gamed more by my poore labours, than I can possibly loose, I have no reason to repent me of this acquaint ance, but more abundant cause of bles∣sing God, and loving you; only whereas I could not here to fore in person correspond as was fit, let me at least in writing make Page [unnumbered]that expression of my love, that I am able, before I goe the way of all flesh. Now what expressions can be expected from a Preacber, but praiers, praises, exhortations, &c? When you dyed, I prayed for you as I could: now you live, I re∣joice with you, and call upon you to sing with me. And where∣as (as tis well noted) we usually are best when worst, * and live best when wee dye fastest, I call upon you, as upon my selfe, to remember) your selves, and not only cast (as the Heathen teaches) how to hold your owne, but rather to exceed. I ever dealt freely with you, let me not now alter. Famce saith, that London is as couetous, as proud, as wanton, as se∣cure as ever. I cannot beleeve it: it is almost impossible, that so great a judgement, so gracious a deliverance should so soone be buryed. Alas (London) thou hast as yet scarce buryed thy dead: the noise of bels, the cry of parents, the scri∣chings of thy widdowes are not yet out of thine cares, the grim face of death stands yet in thy sight, thy bloudy wounds are scarcely stanched as yet: If thou couldst forget judgements, thou canst not bee unsensible of Gods mercies and thy change. If London should, yet doe not you (Beloved,) let others se∣curity bee your feare, others impenitency your sorrow; and the lesse others take to heart Gods great, Gods remarkeable workes, by so much the more doe you improve the same to all holy purposes. More would I say to you, but that I have prevented my selfe in my more publique exbortation; both that and this (more privately spoken out of my speciall re∣lation and affection to you) I now commend to your serious consideration and Gods blessing, who alone can speake to the heart, beseeching him, * who therefore threatens that hee may not smite, to give us cies to see plagues afarre off, and hearts to profit by lesse, that we may not feele plagues yet seven times more, yet seven times worse than all yet felt, Lev. 26. Amen.
Hanwell,March 20.Yours ever in the Lord, ROB. HARRIS.