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• upon them. To set our mind thus upon the creature, is to • discourse with the creature; the questions which man afks
of a beast, are only his own meditations. : Again, the crea• tures teach us ; when we in meditation, make our collectie • ons, and draw down a demonftration of the power, wifdong " and goodness of God in making them, or the fraility of man • in needing them such conclutions and inferences are the • teachings of the creatures.'
Common objects (faith + another) may be improved two ways ; viz. In an argumentative, and in a representative way ; by reasoning from them, and by viewing the refemblance that is betwixt them and spiritual matters.
First, In meditation argue thus, as in the present cafe and fimilitude of the apostle. If an husbandman upon the ordinary principles of reason can wait for the harvest, thall nor I wait for the coming of the Lord? The day of refrething ; the corn is precious to him, and so is the coming of Christ to me. Shali he be fo patient, and endure so much for a little corn? And not I for the kingdom of heaven? He is willing to stay till all causes have had their operations, till he hath received the former and the latter rain ; and shall not I, till the Divine decrees bé accomplished?
Secondly, In meditation, make the resemblance, and difcourse thus within yourselves : This is my feed-time, heaven is my harvest; here I must labour and toil, and there reft. I fee the husbandman's life is a great toil: no excellent thing can be obtained without labour, and an obftinate patience. I fee the feed must be hidden in the furrows, rotten and corrupted, e'er it can spring forth with any increase. Our hopes. are hidden, light is fown for the righteous, all our comforts are buried under the clods, and after all this there inust be long waiting, we cannot fow and reap in a day; effects cannot follow, till all necessary causes have first wrought. It is not in the power of husbandmen to ripen fruits at pleasure, our times are in the hands of God, therefore it is good to wait; a long-suffering patience will reap the desired fruit. ' Thus you have some hints of this heavenly art of improving the creatures.
The motives inducing me to this undertaking, were the Lord's owning with some fuccess, my labours of a like nature, together with Navigation Spie the desire and inclination (stirred up in ritualized.
+ Dr. Manton.
me, I hope, by the Spirit of the Lord, to devote my vacant hours to his service in this kind.) I considered, that if the Pharisees in a blind zeal to a faction, could compass fea and land to profelyte men to their party, though thereby they made them sevenfold more the children of the devil than before ; how much more was I obliged, by true love to God, and zeal to the everlasting happiness of fouls, to use my uttermoft endeavours, both with seamen and husbandmen, to win them to Chrift, and thereby make them more than seventy-seven fold happier than before? Not to mention other encouragements to this work, which I received from the earnest desires of some reverend and worthy brethren inviting thereunto; all which I hope the event will manifest to be a call from God to this work.
I confess I met with some discouragement in my first attempt, from my unacquaintedness with rural affairs; and because I was to travel in a path (to me) untrodden; but having once engaged in it, those discouragements were foon overcome: and being now brought to what you here see, I offer to your hands these first-fruits of my spare hours.
I presume you will account it no disparagement, that I de. dicate a book of husbandry to gentlemen of your quality. This is spiritual husbandry, which here is taught you y and yet I tell you, that great persons have accounted that civil 'employment (which is much inferior to this) no disparagement to them. “The king himself is served by the field,” Eccles. v. 9. Or, as Montanus renders the Hebrew text, Rex agro fit fervus; The king himself is a servant to the field. And of king Uzziah it is written, 2 Chron. xxvi. 10. “That he “ loved husbandry,” And Amos vii. 1. we read of the King's mowings, Yea, Pliny hath observed, that corn was never lo plentiful at Rome, as when the same men tilled the land that ruled the commonwealth. Quasi gauderet terra laureato vomere, fcilicet et aratore triumphali ; as though the earth itself rejoiced in the laurelled plow-share, and the triumphant plowman.
What pleasure you will find in reading it, I know not ; but to me it hath been a pleasant path, from first to laft; who yet have been at far greater expence of time and pains in compiling it, than you can be in reading it. The husbandman's work, you know, is no easy work, and the spiritualizing of it hath greater difficulties attending it; but yet the pleasure hath abundantly recompensed the pains. I have found Erasmus his obfervation experimentally true; Qui litteris addicti fumus, animi lasitudinem a studiis gravioribus contractum; ab iisdem tudiis, fed amoenioribus recreamus : Those that are addicted to
ftudy, (faith he) when they have wearied their spirits with study, can recreate them again with study, by making a diversion from that which is severe and knotty, to some more facile and pleasant subject.
But to hear that God hath used and honoured these papers to the good of any foul, will yield me the highest content and satisfaction imaginable.
May you but learn that leffon, which is the general scope and design of this book,, viz. How to walk with God from day to day, and make the several objects you behold, scalae et alae, wings and ladders to mount your souls nearer to him, who is the center of all blessed spirits. How much will it comfort me, and confirm my hope, that it was the call of God indeed, which put me upon these endeavours !
O Sirs! What an excellent thing would it be for you, to make such holy improvements of all these earthly objects which daily occur to your senses, and cause them to proclaim and preach to you divine and heavenly mysteries ; whilst others make them groan, by abusing them to sing and subjecting them to their lufts. A man may be cast into such a condition, where in he cannot enjoy the blessing and benefit of a pious and pow. erful ministry; but you cannot (ordinarily) fall into such a condition, wherein any thing (excepting a bad heart) can de. prive you of the benefits and comforts of those excellent ser. mons, and divinity lectures, which the creatures here offer to preach and read to you.
Content not yourselves, I beseech you, with that natural sweetness the creatures afford; for thereof the beasts are capable, as much, if not more, than you ; but use them to those spiritual ends you are here directed, and they will yield you a sweetness far transcending that natural sweetness you ever relished in them; and indeed, you never use the creatures as their Lord's, till you come to see your Lord, in and by them. I confess the discoveries of God in the word are far more excellent, clear, and powerful ; " He hath magnified his word above all his " name." And therein are the unsearchable riches of Chrift, or rich discoveries of that grace that bath no footsteps in nature, as the apostle's expression signifies, Ephef. iii. 8.
And if that which might be known of God by the creatures, leave men without excuse, as it is manifest, Rom. i. 20. How inexcufable then will those be, who have received not only the teachings of the creature, but also the grace of the gospel in vain! “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation ?"
They that are careless in the day of grace, shall be speechless in the day of judgment. : I am sensible of many defects in these papers (as well as in myself ;) they have doubtless a taste of the distractions of the times wherein they were written ; uor was I willing to keep them so long under-liand, as the accurateness and exactness with which such a subject ought to be handled, did require. Had I designed my own credit, I should have observed that counsel, Nonumque prematur in annum, (i.e.) To have kept it much longer under the file, before I had exposed it to public view; but I rather inclined to Solomon's counsel, " Whatever thy 56 hand finds out to do, do it with all thy might'; for there is “ no wisdom, nor knowledge, nor device in the grave, whither “ thou art going,” Ecclef. ix. 10, · I apprehend a necessity of some such means to be used, for the instruction and convictiou of country-people; who either are not capable of understanding truth in another dialect, or at leaft are less affected with it. The propofition in every chap ter consists of an observation in husbandry; wherein,, if I have failed in using any improper expression, your candour will co, ver it, and impute it to my unacquaintedness in rural affairs :
In magnis voluise fat est. • The reddition or application, you will find (I hope) both pertinent and close. The reflections serious, and such as I hope) your consciences will faithfully improve. I have shut up every chapter with a Poem, an innocent bait to catch the reader's foul.
That of Herbert is experimentally true :
And turn delight into a facrifice. I should never have been persuaded (especially in this scribling age, wherein we may complain with the poet,
Scribimus indofti, doétique poemata pafim,) to have set my dull fancy upon the rack to extort a poem to entertain my reader; for I cannot say with Ovid, Sponte fua cirmen, &c. but that I have been informed, that many
feamen, induced by the pleasure of a verse, have taken much pains to learn the poems in their compass by heart; and I hope both the children at home, and the servants in the fields, will learn to exercise themselves this way, also. O, how much better will it be fo to do, than to stuff their memories with obe scene ballads, and filthy fongs, which corrupt their minds, and dispose them to much wickedness by irritating their natural
corruption! But these are purer flames, you will find nothing here of such a tendency.
'Tis guilt, not poetry, to be like thofe,
D. DIGS. I shall add no more, but to beg that God who instructeth the husbandman in his civil calling, to teach him wisdom fpiçitually to improve it; and particularly, that you may reap a crop of much fpiritual benefit, from that seed which is here fown by the hand of the Lord's unprofitable servant, and in him,
Your very affectionate
To The CHRISTIAN READER.
THERE are three things wherein (as it hath been said,
long before my day) the exercise of godliness doth chiefly confift: Prayer, temptation, meditation : Meditation is the subject of the following manual. The object of meditation is twofold. First, The word. Secondly, The works of God. The works of God are twofold. First, Internal. Se. condly, External. The external works of God are twofold. First, Of creation. Secondly, Of providence. The works of providence are likewise twofold. First, In things civil, the Lord ordering and over-ruling all the affairs and motions of single persons, families and nations, in a subserviency to his own moft holy ends, designs and purposes. Secondly, In things natural, the Lord instructing the husbandman to discretion, and teaching him how to dress and till the earth, that it may give feed to the fower, and bread to the eater; as also how to breed up and manage the beasts of the field, both greater and lefier cattle, for the use and service of Meditation upon this lower part of the works of God, and
, his wonderful providences about them, may raise our souls very high; and while we wisely consider these natural things, we may grow more and more wise, in and for fpirituals and etersals.
The worthy and ingenious Author of the ensuing discourse,