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this book is written to direct you in ; which I commend to your use, hoping you will be at the pains to read it, as for your sakes I have been to write it; and I shall beg for you of the Lord, while I live on this earth, that he would persuade your souls to this blessed work, and that when death comes, it may find you so employed, that I may see your faces with joy at the bar of Christ, and we may enter together into the everlasting rest. Ainen.
Your most affectionate, though unworthy teacher,
: RICHARD BAXTER. Kidderminster, Jan. 15, 1649.
TO THE RIGHT WORSHIPFOL
SIR THOMAS ROUS, BARONET,
LADY JANE ROUS, HIS WIFE.
This first part of this treatise was written under your roof, and therefore I present it not to you as a gift, but as your own; not for your protection, but for your instruction and direction : for I never perceived you possessed with that evil spirit, which maketh men hear their teachers as their servants, to censure their doctrine, or be humoured by them rather than to learn. Nor do I intend this epistle for the publishing of your virtues : · you know to whose judgment you stand or fall. It is a small
thing to be judged by man's judgment: if you be sentenced as righteous at the bar of Christ, and called by him, the blessed of his Father, it matters not much by what name or title you are here called. All saints are low in their own esteem, and therefore thirst not to be highly esteemed by others. He that knows what pride hath done in the world, and is now doing, and how close that heinous sin doth cleave to all our natures, will scarcely take him for a friend who will bring fuel to the fire; nor that breath for amicable, which will blow the coal. Yet, he that took so kindly a woman's box of ointment, as to affix the history to his Gospel, that wherever it was read, that good work might be remembered, hath warranted me, by his example, to annex the mention of your favours to this treatise, which have many times far exceeded in cost, that which Judas thought too
good for his Lord. And common ingenuity commandeth me thankfully to acknowledge, that when you heard I was suddenly cast into extreme weakness, you sent into several counties to seek me in my quarters, and, missing of me, sent again to fetch me to your house, where for many months I found a hospital, a physician, a nurse, and real friends, and, which is more than all, daily and inportunate prayers for my recovery: and since I went from you, your kindnesses still following me in abundance : and all this for a man that was a stranger to you, whom you had never seen before but to burden you; and for one that had no witty insinuations for the extracting your favours, nor impudence enough to return them in flatteries ; yea, who had such obstructions between his heart and his tongue, that he could scarcely handsomely express the least part of his thankfulness, much less able to make you a requital. The best return I can make of your love is, in commending this heavenly duty to your practice; wherein I must entreat you to be more diligent and unwearied, because as you may take more time for it than the poor can do, so have you far stronger temptations to divert you. It being extremely difficult for those that have fulness of all things here, to place their happiness really in another life, and so set their hearts there, as the place of their rest, which yet must be done by all that will be saved. Study Luke xii. 16–22, xvi. 19, 25; and Matt. xix. 23. How little comfort do all things in this world afford to a departing soul ! My constant prayer for you to God shall be, that all things below may be below him in your hearts, and that you may thoroughly master and mortify the desires of the flesh, and may live above in the Spirit, with the Father of spirits, till you arrive among the perfected spirits of the just. .
Your much obliged servant,
CONCERNING the alterations and additions in this second edition, I thought meet to give you this brief account, though I could have found in my heart to have supplied divers other defects through the book, especially in the beginning of the first and second part, where the effects of my weakness were most evident; yet, because the stationer persuaded me that it would be an offence to those that had bought the first edition, I forbear. Yet, because I knew no reason why any should deny me leave to correct or amend my own work, especially for once, I have made these necessary alterations and additions following. 1. I have corrected several passages (especially in the beginning of the first and second part) which I found to be most liable to exception, or misinterpretation : and more I had done, would my friends have been entreated to have informed me of what they disliked. Also, some passages I have more cleared, that were offensive, by touching on the late public quarrels, which I could have gladly blotted out to avoid distaste, if conscience would have given me leave: but he that will cast off all books which contain any thing disagreeing from his judgment, shall read or profit by few in the world. 2. I have added one chapter, (the ninth,) in the second part; which, being promised in the beginning, in the method propounded, was forgotten. Also, I have added the eleventh chapter in the third part, containing a more exact inquiry into the nature of sincerity, and the use of marks; which I judged of necessity, as being of so great concernment both to men's comforts and to their safety: and I hope none will think it needless curiosity. Also a preface, I have added to the second part, both for defence and fuller explication of the doctrine therein contained; wherein, also, I expect to be free from the censure of needless curiosity, with all those that know how much the peace and welfare of our souls depend on the right apprehension of the verity of the Scriptures. Lastly, I have added many marginal quotations, especially of the ancients; which, though some may conceive to be
useless, and others, to be merely for vain ostentation, yet I conceived useful, both for the sweetness of the matter, (concerning which I refer you to the perusal, to me it seemed so in the reading,)as also to free myself from the charge of singularity.
If any say, that I should have prevented this by all greater carefulness at the first, I answer, 1. That which is past cannot be recalled : it is well if it can be repented of and amended. 2. I wrote so much of it in so exceeding debility of body, that it was much wonder that my understanding was not utterly disabled. 3. And I was distant from home, where I had no book but my Bible, and therefore could not add the consent of authors. If you say, There was no such haste, but I might have stayed till I had been better able and furnished, I answer, 1. Little reason had I to expect to have survived till now, yea, or two months longer. 2. Who knows not how little we are masters of our own, that knows the interest of our friends, who are often importunate for that which others distaste; which, though it be a poor excuse for doing evil, yet may sometimes partly excuse the unseasonable doing of good. 3. I repent not my haste, though I do my imperfections : for God hath been pleased to give the book such unexpected acceptance, that I have reason enough to hope, that the good it hath done this one year, already, is greater than the hurt which the imperfections have done. 4. And I am so conscious of my own imperfections, that I know they will appear in all that I do, and, therefore, I doubt not but there is still that which deserves correction, and would be, if I were to amend it a hundred times. If great Austin so frequently and passionately confess so much by himself, who am I, that I should hope of better? So much of this second edition,
Concerning the book itself, let me advertise you, that the first and last part were all that I intended when I begun it, which I fitted merely to my own use; and, therefore, if you find some strains of self-application, you may excuse them. And for the second part, it fell from my pen besides my first intention, but was occasioned partly by assaults that I had often suffered in that point, and partly by my apprehensions of the exceeding necessity of it, and that to the main end which I intended in this book. Who will set his heart on the goodness of a thing, that is not certain of the truth, or part with his present delights till he is sure he may have better? And, because I have only in brief given you these reasons which most prevailed with