A Christian Directory
Christian Ethics, Christian Economics, Christian Ecclesiastics, and Christian Politics
Library of Alexandria
The eternal God having made man an intellectual and free agent, able to understand and choose the good, and refuse the evil; to know, and love, and serve his Maker, and by adhering to him in this life of trial, to attain to the blessed sight and enjoyment of his glory in the life to come, hath not been wanting to furnish him with such necessaries, without which these ends could not successfully be sought. When we had lost our moral capacity of pleasing him, that we might enjoy him, he restoreth us to it by the wonderful work of our redemption. In Christ he hath reconciled the world unto himself; and hath given them a general act of oblivion, contained in the covenant of grace, which nothing but men's obstinate and final unwillingness can deprive them of. To procure their consent to this gracious covenant, he hath "committed" to his ministers the "word of reconciliation;" commanding us "to beseech men, as in the stead of Christ, and as though God himself did beseech them by us, to be reconciled unto God," 2 Cor. v. 18-20; and to show them first their sin and misery, and proclaim and offer the true remedy, and to let them know, that all things are now ready, and by pleading their duty, their necessity, and their commodity, to compel them to come in, Matt. xxii. 4; Luke xi. 17, 23. But so great is the blindness and obstinacy of men, that the greatest part refuse consent; being deceived by the pleasures, and profits, and honours of this present world; and make their pretended necessities or business the matter of their excuses, and the unreasonable reasons of their refusal, negligence, and delays, till death surprise them, and the door is shut; and they knock, and cry for mercy and admittance, when it is too late, Matt. xxv. 10-12. Against this wilful negligence and presumption, which is the principal cause of the damnation of the ungodly world, I have written many books already. But because there are many that profess themselves unfeignedly willing, not only to be saved, but also to be Christ's disciples; to learn of him, to imitate him, and be conformed to him, and to do the will of God, if they could but know it; I have determined, by God's assistance, to write this book for the use of such, and to give them from God's word those plain directions, which are suited to the several duties of their lives, and may guide them safely in their walk with God, to life eternal. Expect not here copious and earnest exhortations, for that work I have done already; and have now to do with such, as say they are made willing, and desire help against their ignorance, that skill and will may concur to their salvation. I shall labour to speak as plainly as I can, because I specially intend it for the ignorant; and yet to be competently exact in the directions, lest such readers lose the benefit by mistakes. And I must speak to many cases, because I speak to families, where all are not in the same condition, and the same persons are not still the same. And therefore if I should not be brief in the particulars, I should be too long in the whole; and tediousness might deprive some readers of the benefit.