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hath supplied us with an excellent help, for the fpiritualizing of the providential works of God in natural things, by godly meditations; we chiefly want the help of the holy Spirit (without which all other helps and helpers are altogether infufficient) to frame and wind up our hearts, for, this both profitable and delightful duty; yet the help which the Lord is pleased to give us for our direction in it, by the miniftry of man, is not only not to be refused, but thankfully received and improved; and all little enough to bring our minds to, or keep them at this work: The best of faints (on this fide heaven) have (though they are not only earthly-minded) much earth in their minds; which like a heavy clog at their heels, or a weight at their hearts, preffèth them down when they would make an essay to mount upward in meditation. We find it no eafy matter to keep off earthly thoughts, when we are most seriously engag ed in heavenly work; how hard it is then to get in, and be fixed upon heavenly thoughts, while we are engaged about earthly work; yea, are (for fo is the husbandman) working the very earth, and raking in the bowels of it. "Tis a great part of our holiness to be spiritually-minded, while we are converfing with God through Jesus Christ in spiritual duties; but to be spiritually-minded, and to mind spiritual things, when we are converfing with the clods of the earth, and the furrows of the field; when we have to do with corn and grafs, with trees and plants, with fheep and oxen; when we behold the birds and fowls of the air, the worms, and all that creep upon the ground; then (I fay) to be spiritually-minded, and thence to have our thoughts afcending, and foaring up to God, in heart affecting and quickening contemplations, witnesseth an high degree of holiness, and of gracious attainments. To make a ladder out of earthly materials, for the raising of ourselves in fpirit up to heaven, is the art of arts. Holy and happy indeed are they who (being taught of God) have learned this art, and live in daily practice of it. Earthly objects usually hinder us in our way, fometimes turn us quite out of our way to heaven. Many plow and fow, dig and delve the earth, till their hearts become as earthly as the earth itfelf: Many deal about the beasts of the field, till themselves become even brutish. Is it not then a bleffed defign which this Author aims and drives at, so to spiritualize all forts, or the whole compats of earthly husbandry, that all forts of husbandmen may become fpiritual and heavenly? It feems to me a token for good, that God hath an intendment of fome fpecial good to the fouls of fuch as are by profeffion proper husbandmen, seeing he hath
Mr. Richard Steel, and this Author.
lately put it into the hearts of two faithful ministers (who with all of that profeffion, are husbandmen in a figure) to undertake, tho' in a different way, this subject, and to publish their labours in print, that they may be of ufe, not only for the prefent age, but for pofterity.
And that the husbandman may be pleased as well as profited, in perusing the labours of this author; he hath, with fingular aptnefs, and acuteness, contrived and contracted the fum and scope of every chapter into an elegant diftich, or pair of verses, placed at the head of it, and concluded it with a choice melodious poem, fuitable to, and dilating upon the whole matter of it. These the husbandman, who can but read, may quickly learn and fing for his folace, instead of those vain ballads, and corrupting rhimes, which many of that rank are apt to buy, and folace themselves withal, without any benefit, yea, much to their hurt, making their hearts more corrupt, carnal, and vain thereby.
Let me add one word more to the reader. This book of Hufbandry Spiritualized, is not calculated only for the common husbandman; perfons of any calling, or condition, may find the author working out fuch fearching reflections and ftrong convictions, from almost every part and particular of the hufbandman's work, as may prove, if faithfully improved, very useful to them; to fome for their awakening, to confider the state of their fouls, whether in grace, or in nature; to others for their inftruction, confolation, and encouragement in the ways of grace, as alfo for their proficiency and growth in those ways. That the bleffing of the Lord, and the breathings of his good Spirit may go out with it, for all thofe gracious purposes, is the heart's defire, and prayer of him, who is,
Christian Reader, a fincere well-wisher to thy precious and immortal foul,
To his Reverend and Learned Friend, Mr. John Flavel, on his Spiritual Navigation and Husbandry.
ETTERS of mark to his dear servant given,
By him that fifts the ruffling winds of heaven:
T'attack the vaffals of Leviathan.
In Authoris OPERA.
ET Paracelfus and Van Helmont's name,
Lo, here's a chymift, whose diviner skill
Doth hallowed, from unhallowed things diftil.
Spiritualizeth fea-affairs; again,
Makes the rude ground turn tutor unto men.
Teacheth the plowman, from their work, to know
Sic raptim canit,
To his Reverend and Invaluable Friend, Mr. J. F. upon his Husbandry Spiritualized.
NGENIOUS Sir, What do I fee? What now!
The plow deferves to be sent to the prefs.
That it full heaps of grace to God may yield.
That makes men wife, who, even from a clod
Which, in fome measure, leffens our complaints.
We have fome bricks, although the straw be gone,
Sion, at last, will have a glorious day.
The wretched muck-worm, that from morn to night
And, when he hath got all he can, the moft
Wherein he may be rich, yea, much much more,
When earth's more worth than heav'n, and gold than grace,
But not before, unless he do intend
To meet with foul-deftruction in the end.