To all that love the Lord IESUS CHRIST, especially, the godly and religious professors of the true faith in and about the Ci∣tie of London, grace and peace be multi∣plied.
BEloved in the Lord, as your Christian love and charity hath abounded to∣wards mee in my bonds: So Christian affection bindes me to returne to you some Page [unnumbered] tokens and testimonies of thankful∣nesse. When I was sicke and shut up so fast in close prison, that no liberty to visit me, nor any accesse unto me for my comforts could by any importunity, prayers, or petitions be obtained: then, next under God (whose holy Word the sa∣cred Scriptures in the Originall tongues were allowed me for my solace and sole companions day and night) your faithfull and fer∣vent prayers which you powred out to God in my behalfe, were my chiefest outward help: & the vertue & power of them piercing through the double doores, lockes and bolts, through which no keyes of gold or silver could make way or enterance, did most sensibly reach unto me, and I had a lively feeling, and sweet fruition of the benefit and comfort of them. Also after the loosening of my strait bands, and imprison∣ment; when, for the preserving of Page [unnumbered] my life and recovery of health, I had obtained the favour to be only confined to the house of my brother, where my friends might visit me; divers of you did most charitably minister unto my necessities, and did ease me of the clog of cares for necessaries of this life, which other∣wise would have pressed me downe, as an unsupportable burden, and consumed me, being stript of my maintenance and meanes of liveli hood, and the profits of my benefice, which were sequestred and given to others. This your Christian charity▪ I do acknowledge with all thankful∣nesse, and do mention in my dayly prayers and thanksgiving to God; firmely beleeving and perswading my selfe, that he will aboundantly reward your worke of love, and charity, who hath promised that whosoever shall give to drinke unto one of his litle ones which belong to Christ a cup of cold water only, ve∣rily Page [unnumbered] he shall in no wise lose his re∣ward, Mat. 10. 42. Neither have I in this time of my restraint negle∣cted to use all diligence, and to doe my best endeavour (you also help∣ing together by prayer for me) that your charity bestowed on me might bring forth some manifest fruits to your selves and others; and that by meanes thereof thanks and praise may be given by many to God on* our behalfe.
For being freed by your bounty from worldly cares, I gave my self wholly to care for the things of God, and to spend my whole study and paines in some things which might be profitable to the people of God, especially in revising papers, and making fit for the presse, and for publike use, divers of my labours and workes which they whose judg∣ment I doe much reverence, have perswaded me to be more profitable; and many of my most judicious hea∣rers Page [unnumbered] have importuned me to pub∣lish for the commō benefit of many. The first, (in the communicating whereof I have yeelded to their de∣sire) is this small treatise which is as a praeface to the rest, and indeed it was first delivered in some few sermons, as a praeface to the exposi∣tion of the Gospel of Saint Iohn in the yeare 1616. It justly challen∣geth the first place, because the first receiving of men into the Church of God to be visible members of Christ, is by their baptisme, which is the Sacrament of initiation, and their entring into covenant with God in Christ; which Covenant is here in this treatise plainly descri∣bed, and the agreement and differ∣ence shewed betweene it, and the old Covenant of workes, as also be∣tween the old and new Testament, and betweene the Law and the Gospel.
The next in order is, the instru∣ction Page [unnumbered] of Christians in the Doctrine of Christ, which in another treatise is described, and set forth by the matter, forme, fruit, affect, end, use, and ground of it. First deli∣vered in divers sermons upon Heb. 6. v. 11, 12, 13, 14. and now made and formed into a Treatise fit to be published for the benefit of Gods Church, at the importunity, and request of divers well affected hearers.
The third is a treatise of God, who is the proper subject of the di∣vine art of Theology, or sacred Di∣vinity, in which the eternall and only true God is described, and set forth at large, out of the words of Moses, Deu. 6. 4. in the unity of his essence, and all his attributes, and essentiall properties, and in the sa∣cred Trinity of persons; all fully and clearly proved by plaine Testi∣monies and demonstrations out of the sacred canonicall Scriptures. Page [unnumbered] The fourth is the doctrine of Gods internall operations, and eternall works, to wet his eternall counsells, purposes, and decrees, concerning the last and utmost end of all rea∣sonable creatures Men and Angels, and concerning the way and means by which they are brought to their last end, some to eternall life and blessednesse, and some to eternall damnation, wo and misery.
The fifth is the doctrine of Gods externall works, and outward operations; which are first generally laid open and proved out of seve∣rall texts of holy Scriptures▪ and af∣terwards divided into severall heads. The first is the great worke of creation, fully and plainly descri∣bed out of the first and second Chap. of the booke of Genesis. To which is joyned a treatise of Gods actuall providence by which he doth order and dispose all things created, and the actions and motions of them to Page [unnumbered] his owne glory, and the eternall sal∣vation and blessednesse of his elect.
The sixth is the fall and cor∣ruption of mankind, with all the e∣vills which thereby entred into the world; fully and plainly described out of Gen. cap. 3.
The seventh is the institution of the Sabbath on the seventh day of the world, on which day Christ was promised: and by the promise of Christ which was the greatest bles∣sing given and revealed to the fa∣thers in the old testament, that day came to be the most blessed day of the weeke, and was sanctified by God to be the weekly Sabbath, un∣till by the full exhibition of Christ a perfect redeemer in his resurrec∣tion on the first day of the weeke, that first day became a more blessed day, and by Christ the Lord of the Sabbath▪ was sanctified, and had the honour of the weekly Sabbath transferred unto it, and is to be ob∣served Page [unnumbered] of Christians for their holy day of rest, untill they come to the eternall rest in heaven.
These severall Treatises I have in this time of my restraint made fit for the presse, & the publike view of the world, and here I offer them up to God, as a sacrifice of thanks∣giving for his bounty extended to me, by you his instruments, by whose charity my necessities have beene supplied, the burthen of worldly care removed from my shoulders, and I have beene ena∣bled and encouraged to performe these workes with cheerfulnesse. If with you, (to whom I tender them as testimonies of my love, and tokens of my thankfull heart) they find acceptation, and prove profita∣ble to the Church and people of God, I shall thinke my vowes per∣formed, my desires in some good measure obtained, and the best re∣compence of my paines which I ex∣pect Page [unnumbered] and seek in this world, recei∣ved; And with strength, courage, alacrity, and cheerfulnesse shall proceed in the opening, and unfol∣ding of the rest of Gods great works of wisdome, power, goodnesse and mercy, which concerne the restau∣ration of mankind corrupted; by which the elect are gathered unto God in Christ, lifted up out of their wofull wretched and miserable con∣dition to the state of grace in this life, and in the end exalted to the blessed state of glory. As namely the works which belong to redemp∣tion, which God hath wrought only by Iesus Christ; And the workes which belong to the application of redemption, which God worketh in his elect by the holy Ghost shed on them aboundantly through Iesus Christ in their new birth, and spi∣rituall regeneration; as their ef∣fectuall vocation, adoption, justifi∣cation, sanctification, and glorifi∣cation, Page [unnumbered] Divers of which I have in my course of preaching, opened and unfolded out of severall texts of holy Scripture, as occasion hath heretofore been offered; and if God be pleased to continue life, health, and liberty, they may be con∣tinued into severall treatises in that order and method which I have in the first beginning, and enterance into the body of sacred divinity propounded, in the trea∣tise of God, Deut. 6. 4,
For the accomplishing of these workes by the good will and plea∣sure of God, I do in the words of the Apostle exhort and beseech you,* to continue in prayer, and to watch in the same with thanksgiving, praying alwayes with all prayer and* supplication in the spirit, and wat∣ching thereunto with all perseve∣rance, & supplication for all Saints, withall praying for us his Mini∣sters, that God would open unto Page [unnumbered] us a doore of utterance, that we may open our mouthes boldly to speake as we ought, and to make knowne the mistery of the Gospel. And now, Brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance, among all them which are sanctified.