The guard of the tree of life, or, A sacramental discourse shewing a Christians priviledge in approaching to God in ordinances, duty in his sacramentall approaches, danger if hee do not sanctifie God in them
Bolton, Samuel, 1606-1654.
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TO MY BELOVED FRIENDS, The Godly and Well-affected of Saviours-Southwark; Grace and Peace.


IT is now well-nigh four yeeres since I was re∣moved from a loving, a very loving people in the City, and fixed among you; the expresses of love which in this time I have received from you, have put me on to think, what way I might again manifest my ingagements to you: And considering with my self the relation wherein I stand, I could Page  [unnumbered]think of no better way of acknow∣ledgement then to impart something spirituall to you; and no better sub∣ject then this which is now presented to your view, nor could I think of a better time then this for the doing of it, when God in our blood shewes us what a fearfull thing it is to be guil∣ty of the blood of his Sonne; It is not unknown unto you, how greatly this place above many others, hath been guilty of the prophanation of this Or∣dinance of the Lords Supper; God hath discovered it to us, humbled us for it, shewed us the necessity, and graciously inclined your spirits to the desire of the reformation of it. In re∣ference to which (through the counte∣nance and assistance of you) my bro∣ther Minister and my self, have ad∣ventured to set upon the work, be∣ing willing to put our selves to no little trouble, if by that wee might prevent a great deal of sin. In this work (the searcher of hearts knowes) we have had no other design, then to Page  [unnumbered]express our Pastorall duties, and de∣clare our Pastorall affections towards your souls: In short, to serve you in love: Probably we may meet with ma∣ny obstacles in the carrying on this work; Indeed, it is that which is expected; nay, and that which wee reckoned on before we entred on it. But if the work be Gods, hee will either facilitate and make it easie for us, or give us spirits proportionable to the greatness of it, I say hee will either lessen the difficulties, or heigh∣ten our spirits to conflict and in∣counter with them.

There are two sort of adversaries which we expect to meet withall: some that will say, we go too far, and others who will blame us that we go no fur∣ther.

To them that think we have gone too far, I shall only say, that we hope we have not gone beyond Gods bounds; sure as God hath a purpose this Ordi∣dinance should be continued, so hee Page  [unnumbered]hath a care also, that it should be fen∣ced from prophanation in the conti∣nuance of it; and when a better way shall be discovered to us, wherein we may hold up the use of this Ordi∣nance, and yet fence it (in the use of it) from evident prophanation, wee are ready to listen to it, and be thank∣full for it; in the mean, wee do not see it our duty to hold up the use of this Ordinance, except there be some fence set up (all former fences being insufficient, and now broken down) to keep this Ordinance from mani∣fest prophanation, unless you will say our Pastorall office doth, in the exer∣cise of it, necessitate us to sin. Much more might be said, if wee saw it ei∣ther requisite or convenient for an Epistle.

To those who blame us we go no fur∣ther, I must say our design hath bin ra∣ther to tempt on, by going their pace, then to discourage by over-driving our little ones; I say it hath been our Page  [unnumbered]aim to cherish not to quench, to draw out, not to suppress the graces of our people; and therefore have we desired to improve those graces which wee found, though weak, rather then to expect that which was not to be found. Our present reformation, it is not the measure of our will, but of our power; it is not the utmost wee desire, but the utmost wee are able: And though it may seem small to you, yet despise not the day of small things; though the house is not built, yet wee rejoyce the first stone is laid, and wee could not choose but bring it forth with shouting, Grace, Grace, unto it, and Glory, Glory to the Lord. Baby∣lon was not built in a day, neither is Sion; God carries on his works without us, as he doth his works with∣in us, by degrees; the greatest fire was at first a spark, the tallest Oak at the first an Achorne, the strongest Christian had his infancie, and the greatest work of God its mean begin∣nings; Page  [unnumbered]Would the corruption of for∣mer times have suffered our godly predecessours, to have left the work in that forwardness to us, in which through Gods blessing, it may be left to them who shall succeed, possibly, nay probably, the work might have been carryed on to a greater height then now it can; That which is done wee desire to bless God for it, and think it our duty to cherish with our utmost prayers and indeavours; In relation to which, these ensuing Ser∣mons formerly preached, are now printed, to which work, if they shall be any thing serviceable, they have obtained the end of him,

Who is not unwilling to spend, and be spent for you: S. BOLTON.