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NATURE and DISCIPLINE
Holy Cross of Christ;
The DENIAL of SELF, and daily bearing of CHRIST'S CROSS, is the alone Way to the Reft and Kingdom of GOD.
To which are added,
The living and dying Teftimonies of many Perfons of Fame and Learning, both of ancient and modern Times, in Favour of this Treatise.
In Two PARTS
'And Jefus faid unto his Difciples; If any Man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his Crofs daily, and follow ‹ me,' Luke iv. 23.
'I have fought a good Fight, I have finished my Course, I have kept the Faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a CROWN ' of Righteoufnefs, &c.' 1 Tim. iv. 7, 8.
Published in the Year 1668.
HE great business of man's life is, to answer the end for which he lives; and that is, to glorify God, and fave his own foul: this is the decree of heaven, as old as the world. But fo it is, that man mindeth nothing less than what he should moft mind; and defpifeth to enquire into his own being, its original duty and end; chufing rather to dedicate his days (the steps he fhould make to bleffedness) to gratify the pride, avarice, and luxury of his heart; as if he had been born for himself, or rather given himself being, and fo not fubject to the reckoning and judgment of a fuperior power. To this wild and lamentable pafs, hath poor man brought himself, by his difobedience to the law of God in his heart, by doing that which he knows he should not do, and leaving undone what he knows he should do. And as long as this disease continueth upon man, he will make his God his enemy, and himself uncapable of the love and falvation that he hath manifested by his fon, Jefus Chrift, to the world.
If, Reader, thou art fuch an one, my counsel to thee is, to retire into thyfelf, and take a view of the condition of thy foul; for Chrift hath given thee light with which to do it: fearch carefully and thoroughly; thy life is upon it; thy foul is at ftake. It is but once to be done; if thou abuseft thyfelf in it, the lofs is irreparable; the world is not price enough to ranfom thee; wilt thou then, for fuch a world, belate thyfelf, overstay the time of thy falvation, and lose thy foul? Thou haft to do (I grant thee) with great patience; but that alfo must have an end: therefore provoke not that God that made thee, to reject thee. Doft thou know what it is? It is Tophet, it is hell, the eternal anguish of the damned. Oh! Reader, as one knowing the terrors
of the Lord, I perfuade thee to be ferious, diligent, and fervent about thy falvation! aye, and as one knowing the comfort, peace, joy and pleasure of the ways of righteousness too, I exhort and invite thee, to embrace the reproofs and convictions of Chrift's light and spirit in thine own conscience, and bear the judgment, who haft wrought the fin. The fire burns but the stubble; the wind blows but the chaff: yield up thy body, foul and spirit, to him that maketh all things new; new heavens and new earth, new love, new joy, new peace, new works, a new life and converfation. Men are grown corrupt and droffy by fin, and they must be faved through fire, which purgeth it away; therefore the word of God is compared to a fire, and the day of falvation to an oven; and Chrift himself to a refiner of gold, and purifier of filver.
Come, Reader, hearken to me a while; I seek thy falvation; that is my plot; thou wilt forgive me. A refiner is come near thee, his grace hath appeared to thee it fhews thee the world's lufts, and teacheth thee to deny them. Receive his leaven, and it will change thee; his medicine, and it will cure thee: he is as infallible as free; without money, and with certainty. A touch of his garment did it of old; it will do it ftill: his virtue is the fame, it cannot be exhausted; for in him the fulness dwells: bleffed be God for his fufficiency. He laid help upon him, that he might be mighty to fave all that come to God through him: do thou fo, and he will change thee: aye, thy vile body like unto his glorious body. He is the great philofopher indeed, the wisdom of God, that turns lead into gold, vile things into things precious: for he maketh faints out of finners, and almost gods of men. What refts to us then, that we must do, to be thus witneffes of his power and love? This is the Crown: but where is the Crofs? Where is the bitter cup and bloody baptifm? Come, Reader, be like him; for this tranfcendent joy, lift up thy head above the world; then thy falvation will draw nigh indeed.
Chrift's Cross, is Chrift's way to Chrift's Crown. This is the fubject of the following difcourfe; first writ during my confinement in the Tower of London, in the year 1668, now reprinted with great enlargements of matter and teftimonies, that thou, Reader, mayest be won to Chrift; and if won already, brought nearer to him. It is a path, God in his everlasting kindness guided my feet into, in the flower of my youth, when about two and twenty years of age: then he took me by the hand, and led me out of the pleafures, vanities, and hopes of the world. I have tafted of Christ's judgments, and of his mercies, and of the world's frowns and reproaches: I rejoice in my experience, and dedicate it to thy fervice in Chrift. It is a debt I have long owed, and has been long expected: I have now paid it, and delivered my foul. To my country, and to the world of chriftians I leave it may God, if he please, make it effectual to them all, and turn their hearts from that envy, hatred and bitterness, they have one against another, about worldly things; (facrificing humanity and charity to ambition and covetousness, for which they fill the earth with trouble and oppreffion) that receiving the spirit of Chrift into their hearts, (the fruits of which are love, peace, joy, temperance and patience, brotherly kindness and charity) they may in body, foul and fpirit, make a triple league against the world, the flesh and the devil, the only common enemies of mankind; and having conquered them through a life of felf-denial, by the power of the Crofs of Jefus, they may at laft attain to the eternal rest and kingdom of God.
So defireth, fo prayeth,
thy fervent christian friend,