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METHOD OF GRACE
THE EPISTLE DEDICATORY.
To the Worshipful John Upton, of Lupton, Esq. and the most
accomplished and virtuous Lady, his dear Confort, the Author wishes Grace, Mercy, and Peace.
HONOURED AND WORTHY FRIENDS, . 'T was a comfortable expression, which Ambrose used in his fu
neral oration, at the death of Theodofius ; * « That though « he were gone, yet.
he was, not wholly gone; for he had left “ Honorius, with others of his children, behind him, in whom “ Theodosius still lived." Your renowned and worthy ancestors are gone, yet (blessed be God) they are not wholly gone ; whilst the prudence, piety, and publickness of their spirits, still live and flourish in you, the top branch of a renowned and religious family. It is a great truth, which Philo Judæus recommends to the observation of all posterity, “ + That it is not a natural descent “ from the most honourable and illustrious progenitors, nor the
Theodofius tantus imperator receffit a nobis, fed non totus receffit ; reliquit enim nobis liberos fuos, in quibus debemus eum agnofcere. Ambrof. in obit. Theod.
* Τοις δε υμνεσι την ευγένειαν ως μεγισoν αγαθον και μεγαλων αγαθων αιτιον, & μετριως επιτιμητέον, ει πρωτον μεν οιoνται τες εκ παλαιοπλατων και παλαιενδοξων ευγενεις, μητε των προγονων αφων αυχεσι γενεσθαι.--Βαληθεις γαρ ο Θεος δια ημεροτητα και φιλανθροπιαν και πας ημιν τεθ ιδρυσασθαι, νεων αξιοπρεπεξερον επι γης εχ ευρε λογισμα κρειτίω ο γαρ ν8ς αγαλμαιοφορει το αγαθον, καν απισωσι τινες των μη γευσαμενων σοφιας η χειλεσων ακροις. Ρhilo fudeur περι Ευγενειας, a book fit for the hands of all gentlemen, translated by Laurentius Huma phredus in his excellent tract de Nobilitate.
“ greatest affluence of riches and pleasures that makes a man ei“ ther honourable or happy, but the habitation of God in his “ fout, as in his temple, tho' (faith he) those
that never tasted re“ ligion, nor have seen its glory, will not credit this assertion." " The foul which is filled with God, (faith * Plotinus) and brings « forth the beautiful fruits of righteousnefs, this is the truly noble • soul :" Our new birth makes us more honourable than our natural birth, let our birth-right dignities be what they will. The children of nobles are, by nature, the children of wrath, even as others : Omnis Sanguis concolor, all blood is of one colour : it is all tainted in Adam, and mingled together in his pofterity. “There “ is no king, faith † Seneca, which rose not from a servant ; there « is no servant which rose not from a king : these things have been « blended, and jumbled to and fro in a long tissue of changes, “ ever directed by an all-wise Providence.”
But though the privileges of natural birth fignify nothing as to eternal falvation, yet in civil and political refpects and confiderations, those that by birth, education, or estate, possess an higher station in the world, differ from the vulgar, as stars of greater magnitude and lufture: their interest and influence are great in these things, and the welfare of kingdoms † greatly depends upon them.
It is therefore a great design of the enemy of mankind, to corrupt persons of eminent rank and quality both in religion and morality; and by their influence and example, to infect and poison the whole body politic; and his success herein deferves to be greatly lamented and bewailed. Persons of eminency are more especially y obliged to fhun base and fordid actions. Hierom profeffed | he saw nothing desirable in nobility, except this, that such persons are bound by a certain kind of necessity, not to degenerate from the probity, or stain the glory of their ancestors. But alas ! how many in our times have not only exposed Christianity to contempt, but obfcured * the glory of their own families, and the kingdom in which they had their birth and breeding; fo that if you will take right marks of your way to heaven you will have little direction from those of your own rank. As + mariners take their direction at fea, by looking up to the heavens, fo must you. In this general corruption it is very hard to escape infection; many (as Salvian complained) I are compelled to be 'evil, left they should be accounted vile, and incur the offence of God, to avoid the flights and censures of men. Although there is no more reafon why they should be offended at the rational and religious pleasures you and other pious gentlemen take in the ways of godliness, than there is, that you should envy the sinful pleasures they take in the ways of wickedness. It was an excellent apology, that Tertullian made for the Christians of his time, against the Gentiles. “ Wherein (faith (he) do we offend you, if we believe there are “ other pleasures ? If we will not partake with you in your de" lights, it is only our own injury : we reject your pleasures, " and you are not delighted with ours.
Τυχη πλης αθεισα θεε γεννα το καλλος, γεννα την δικαιοσυνην. Platinur. † Niminenz rozcm ion ex jervis effe oriundum, nemilium fervum non ex regibus : omnia iRa lorça varietes szifenit, ci jurisim derfum fortum verfavit. Sen. Ep. 44.
ļ Who manages the reins of government, who is present at, and presides over, both private and public mutars, but persons of eminent rank and quality? Who moderates in the Senate, prefides in courts, commands at home and abroad? Chief men und nobles surely. Who command and arrange, act and counteract, manage and canvass all affairs, who make laws and recind them, who govern the state in che tiine ei peace, and carimand the forces in time of war, but great men and noblos? No wonder that the management of public affairs be committed to him, who both by personal merit and renown of his ancestors hath recommended himself to the good report and citvem of mankind. Laurent. Hunpbred on Nobility,
si in sexina fortura, minimu esi licentia. Exalted stations ought to hedge up the way of those who fill them, from every vicious practics. Saluft.
i Niwib aliud sides in nobilitate a pierdum, iij quod nobiles quedam recogitate conferino gezdi.?, ::: ał witahorin provincie Wrenerent. Hieron.
But by how much the infection spreads and prevails among those of your order, by so much the more we have reason to value you, and all those that remain sound and untainted, both in religion and morality, as persons worthy of singular respect and honour : and blessed be God there is yet a number of such left.
Sir, It was a special happiness, which Chrysostom earnestly recommended to persons of quality, that they would so order their conversations, that their parents might rather glory in them, than they in their parents ; “ Otherwise (faith || he) it is better to rise
grant that the end proposed may be obtained, that the ancient and truly venerable nobility may at length return, who by the honour of prudence and knowledge, and lustre of renowned
deeds, may obscure the same progenitors, and quite remove and wipe off the stain brought on its august name. Humpb. on Nobility.
t In the fame manner, you ought to seek the path of life, as the mariners at sea seck the designed course of their ships, who, if they observe not some luminary in the heavens, steer but an uncertain course, but whosoever is resolved to keep in the right path of life, must not look down to the earth but to heaven ; and (to speak more plainly) he ought not to follow men but God; therefore if thou wouldīt al. ways keep thine eyes fixed on heaven, and observe the fun whence he ariseth, and take him as thy guide, thy feet of themselves will keep straight in the way. Lac. tant. lib. I. c. 8.
• Mali effe coguntur, ne viles habeantur. Salv, de Gubernat.
Ś Quo vos offendimus fi alias præfumimus voluptates ? fi oblettari nolumus, noftra injuria of : reprobamus quæ placent vobis, nec vos nofira delectant. Tertul. Apolog. adv. Gent.
| Melius et de contemptibili fieri clarum, quam de claro genere contemptibilem effe, Chryfoft. in Mat. 4. Nec fieri poteft quin bunc comitetur ignobilitas etiamsi vel avis, te! preavis natus fit vita inculpatis, qui ab eorum ftudiis alienus eft, feque longisime tum diciis, tum faétis a nobilitate disjungit
. Nor can aught but ignominy pursue the wretch, who, though nobly descended, bespatters the efcutchcon of his worthy ancestors by his unworthy conduct.
« to honour from a contemptible parent, than to be contemptible « from an honourable parent;" but blessed be God, you and your worthy ancestors reflect honour upon each other.
Had God suffered you to degenerate, as many do, it would have been but a poor confolation to have said, My progenitors were men of honour, the love and delight of their country. This, as * one excellently expresseth it, would be the same thing, as if one that is blind himself, should boast what a sharp and piercing fight his father had ; or one that is lame himself, should glory in those feats of activity his grandfather performed; but God (to whose bounty therefore you are doubly obliged) hath made you the inheritor of their virtues, as well as of their lands, and therein fulfilled many thousand prayers, which have been poured out to God upon your account. But I must forbear, lest I provoke others to envy, and draw upon myself the fufpicion of Hattery. What hath been already said may serve for a fufficient reason of this dedication. I know the + agreeableness of such discourses to the pious difpofitions of your souls, is of itself sufficient to make it welcome to you. It is a treatise of Christ, yea, of the Method of Grace, in the application of Christ; than which no subject can be more neceffary to study, or sweet to experience. All goodness is attractive, how powerfully attractive then must Jesus Christ be, who is the ocean of all goodness, from whoni all streams of goodness are derived, and into whom they all empty themselves ? s If Pindarus could say of the lovely Theoxenus, that whosoever faw that august and comely face of his, and was not surprized with amazeinent, and enflamed with love, must have an heart of adamant or brass ; what then shall we resemble that man's heart unto, that hath no ferverous affections kindled in it by the incomparable beauty of Christ! a beauty, which excels in lustre and brightness, that visible light which so dazzles our eyes), as that light doth darkness itself; as Plato 1pcaks of the divine light Chritt is υπερβαλλοντως καλος, an
What profit is the sharp-sightedness of ancestors to their offspring, deprived of fight? What help can it give the man that is dumb, for attaining the power of speech, that his parents and grandf:thers had the voice of orators ? In like manner, just parents cannot help their unjust children; nor the temporate those who are luxurious: nor at any rate, can the good communicate goodness to the bad. Pbilo. περι Ευγενιας. ,
† When the mind of the hearer is good and gracious, it easily assents to speeches of truth. Cbryo. Hum. 26. in Mat.
- Ουδεν αλλο εςιν έρωσιν ανθρωποι η το αγαθε ανελκει παντα και αναστα ταις οικείαις ελαμψεσιν ως ηλιος. . Plato.
και Ακτινος προσωπο μαρμαρτιζεσας δρακεις ος με ποθώ κυμαινεται, ως αδεμιντος.
Η Το νοητον φως, το αρχετυπον πον7ων τοσέτω τα ορατα λαμπροτερον τε και around sigur 2007 18.0; 5%CTäse