LAURENCE COUGHLAN: AN ACCOUNT OF THE WORK OF GOD IN NEWFOUNDLAND


3.

PREFACE.
TO THE
CHRISTIAN READER.

THERE is nothing more pleasant and comfortable, more animating and enlivening, more ravishing and Soul-contenting, to a true Christian, than the frequent reading the Experiences of dying Saints; this discovers the Communion and Oneness that subsists between the Head and Members; Christ Jesus being the whole of Man's Happiness; the Physician, who heals his Soul's Sickness; the Wall of Fire, which defends him in all the Assaults of his Enemies; the Ark, which supports him in the Deluge of all his Diseases; the Rock, which sustains him under the heaviest Pressure; the Enjoyment, which solaceth him in the deepest Sorrows; while the Want of Christ distracteth Souls in the greatest worldly Abundance. Christ is the Pillar, whicH protects and leads his dear Children: He is the Heavenly Manna, which feeds the Lord's People; he is the brazen Serpent, which cures them of thIs sinful Venom, which the fiery Serpent hath infused into them: For Christ is the All in All, in whom Mercy is seated, and through whom, it is revealed and communicated to all that thirst after it.

Nothing can make that Man miserable, who hath Christ for his Portion; Christ being the only Well that is able to refresh and fill us, when all our Vessels, like Hagar's, prove empty Bottles. Christ is the only Conductor, who is able to lead his People through this Wilderness, and Red Sea of manifold Adversities; the only Companion to comfort us, when God calls us to pass through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. From hence it appears, that having Christ, we are secure; but, without Christ, all other Enjoyments are worth Nothing. Stand not therefore upon the Cost, whether Pains, or Tears, or Prayers, Peace or Wealth, Goods or Name, Life or Liberty; sell all for this Pearl: Christ is of that Worth and Use, that thou canst never overbuy him, though thou givest thyself, and all the World for him. The making sure of Christ is the Assurance of all the rest.

Be constant in the Knowledge of Faith, Love, Fear, and Profession of Christ. Be not, in the Matter of God's Worship and thy Salvation, like a Reed shaken with the Wind. Be not carried to and fro with every Wind of Doctrine, like a Ship without a Rudder. Be not tossed up and down with every Gust and Wave of Affliction. Take not thy leave of Christ, as Orpha did of Naomi, for any Distress that may befal the Church, or the Cause of Christ; do not leave the Sun for a Glow-Worm, the Favour of God for the Love of Men; do not change the Ark for the World, the Wheat for Chaff.

It was the Saying of Constantine the Great, "He that will be false to God will never be true to Man for Conscience Sake." He that breaketh Faith with God is not worthy of the least Credit with Men. Take heed then, let not Thoughts within thee arise of departing from the living God; but press forward, draw nearer and nearer to God. Break through all the Armies of Opposition and Discouragement, which do or shall encounter thee; as David's Worthies, break through the Armies of the Philistines, and come to the Wells of Bethel. Grow in Knowledge, as the Light shining more and more unto the perfect Day. Grow in Faith, as the Trees in Root; increase in Love, as the Fire in Heat, having much Wood; be not terrified with any Combinations; be not disheartened with any Losses; revolt not for Fear of any Suffering; there is enough in Christ to make a superabundant Recompense; in him, thou hast an Iron Pillar, when all thy withered Reeds are broken; a Wall of Fire, when all the Refuges and Hiding Places of Chaff and Stubble are scattered, like the Dust before the Wind: In him thou hast a glorious Sun, when all the blazing Stars of thy worldly Comforts are extinguished; and come to nought; a Bridegroom, the Chiefest among Ten Thousand, when all thy Friends, according to the Flesh, are put to perpetual Silence in the Grave. O then suffer thyself now to be guided by Christ; prostrate thyself under the Feet of Christ; be with Christ; repose thyself upon him; increase thy Interest in Christ; live wholly to Christ; and be ready to suffer and die for Christ; that thou mayest for ever triumph with Christ; so prayeth the most unworthy of them who serve the Lord Christ.


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