« ElőzőTovább »
THE AUTHOR TO THE READER.
BEING desirous, through the mercy of God, to please him, for whom I am, and live, and who giveth me my desires and performances; and considering with myself, that the way to please him is to feed
my flock diligently and faithfully, since our Saviour hath made that the argument of a pastor's love; I have resolved to set down the form and character of a true pastor, that I may have a mark to aim at: which also I will set as high as I can, since he shoots higher that threatens the moon, than he that aims at a tree. Not that I think, if a man do not all which is here expressed, he presently sins, and displeases God; but that it is a good strife to go as far as we can in pleasing of him, who hath done so. much for us.
The Lord prosper the intention to myself, and others, who may not despise my poor labours, but add to those points, which I have observed, until the book grow to a complete pastoral.
CONSISTING OF SIX PARAGRAPHS.
§. 1. My design in this preface to this impression is, first, to own that which I made to the first, that came forth anno Domini 1652; and to bless God for giving me that portion of ingenuity, to imitate Ezra the
scribe, Nehemiah the governor, and Daniel the prophet, by giving God the glory of his justice, in bringing upon us those evils which we then suffered; and that degree of courage, in that day, when violence was at the height, to tell the instruments of cruelty the immediate causes of those evils; that God had also rods in store for them; and that from the ruins of that church they had pulled down, an heavy stone would fall upon themselves, and bruise them.
. 2. Secondly, to do a piece of right, an office of justice to the good man that was possessor of the manuscript of this book, and transmitted it freely to the stationer who first printed it; merely upon de sign to benefit the clergy, and in them the church of England. He was Mr. Edmund Duncon, rector of Fryarn-Barnet in the county of Middlesex, brother
to Dr. Eleazar Duncon, and Mr. John Duncon, two very learned and worthy persons, and great sufferers, who both died before the miracle of our happy restoration; and were happy in that they lived not to see such ostentation of sin and ingratitude, as some since have made: as if they had been delivered from slavery under the tyrant, that they might with more liberty yield themselves servants to sin, under the tyranny of Satan.
. 3. Thirdly, to tell some of my thoughts for their good, unto my younger conforming brethren, (as for mine elder, dignitaries, and our fathers in God, I look upon them as judges, how I demean myself in this matter:) I say, to tell them, first, what an halcyonian calm, a blessed time of church of England had for many years, above all the churches in the world besides: (God grant that they may live to see the like:) at the very akun of which time, when the king, St. Charles of blessed memory, and the good archbishop of Canterbury, with others, were endeavouring to perfect the clergy in regularity of life, uniformity of officiating, and all variety of learning; then did schism, faction, and jealousy kindle that fire, which destroyed both church and state: and when they had done so, did cunningly cry out upon such, who laboured most to quench it, as if those very men had been the only or the chief incendiaries. It is meet that the younger clerks be neminded of this: because a considerable number of them, who be now admitted into holy orders, and inducted into livings, were not born before the troubles broke forth, which was about the year 1638. These men therefore shall do well to acquaint themselves with the most exact and impartial histories of the last past forty years, wherein there have been the strangest revolutions that ever happened in England in such a space of time. This is requisite to enable them to teach the people of this land (where all things are forgotten) what use they ought to make of God's mercies before, of his judgments in, the wars; and after them also, of the great plague in the year 1665. Of the Dutch war in the same year, and in the year 1672, &c. and of his contending by fire with the nation, when London (the representative of the whole kingdom) was burnt in the year 1666. And secondly, to tell them, what he that has but half an eye may easily foresee, that the effect of publishing this book will be in no mediocrity. It will do either exceeding great good to the clergy, or exceeding much prejudice. Much good, if it work so upon the clergy, as effectually to persuade them to conform to that holy character delineated in the book: otherwise it will produce much prejudice; by framing so perfect an idea of a curate of souls in the minds of the laity, and by erecting such a great expectation and desire, that he, who takes care of theirs, be exactly such an one as this book has described ; that if herein they be frustrated, all will be sorry, some will murmur and rage, others will perhaps forsake their parish church, if not the English: Deus avertat.
The portraiture of virtue in general displayed by eloquence is very amiable. But perfections proper to any of the three grand vocations, (especially that of the clergy, daily attendants on the Holy One,) the more accurately their characters be imprinted in the minds of others, the more despicable do they render the professors that want them. And the ordinary sort of people (which are the most) will wresť the defects of the man upon the profession ; and, at the next remove, upon the best accomplished professors
This consideration gives me the cue, to insert here a most passionate request, which I tender to the younger clergy, by the mercies of God, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, (of whose eternal priesthood they have a share,) and by the preciousness of their own and others' souls committed