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TO PART I. OF THE ORIGINAL EDITION.
TO THE RIGHT WORSHIPFUL AND OTHER
MY BELOVED AND CHRISTIAN FRIENDS,
INHABITANTS IN THE PARISH OF CHRIST-CHURCH, LONDON.
The souls of men may as certainly be destroyed by poisoning as by starving. If Satan cannot prevent some kind of tasting and receiving the grace of the gospel, he often poisonously perverts it, by making men turn it into lasciviousness, and even by freedom from sin allow themselves in sinning freely. The seducers crept into the church in Jude's time, and under pretence of Christian liberty introduced unchristian libertinism. No cheaper stuff than grace would serve their turn wherewith td clothe lasciviousness, and no other patron than the Lord Christ himself to protect their impieties. Whether they were the disciples of Simon Magus, or Nicolaitanes, or Gnostics, (as Epiphanius thinks,) I do not inquire; sure I am, they were of the synagogue of Satan; he was both their father and master, whom they resembled, and whose works they did. In this Epistle the apostle Jude not only with holy zeal opposes them himself, but sounds a trumpet to rouse up the Christians, (upon whose quarters these seducers had fallen, to surprise their treasure, the doctrine of faith,) earnestly to contend for the preservation of so precious a depositum, once, and once for all, delivered to their keeping. The arguments used by the apostle are cogent, his directions prudent, and it is probable that his pains were in some degree successful. I know no spiritually skilful
I observer but perceives too great a resemblance between their faces and those of our times. Sins in our days are not only committed under the enjoyment, but, in pretence, by the encouragement of grace; men who now dare not sin, are by some derided as ignorant of their Christian liberty; and evident it is that many live as if, being delivered from the fear of their enemies, they were delivered from the fear and service of their Deliverer; and as if the blood of the Passover were not intended by God to be sprinkled upon the door-posts to save them, but upon the threshold of the door for them to trample upon. Beloved friends, if God hath appointed that you should resemble these Christians to whom Jude wrote in
the danger of your times, it is your duty to embrace the directions delivered to these Christians for your defence from those dangers. A gracious heart considers not how bitter, but how true; not how smart, but how seasonable, any truth is. My aim in publishing these Lectures is to advance holiness, and, as far as I could do it, by following the mind of the apostle, to oppose those sins, which if people hate not most, are like to hurt them most ; and to advance those duties with which, if people be not inost in love, yet in which they are most defective, and thereby most endangered. And now again, I beseech you, that I may testify my unfeigned affection as well by my epistle as my book-labour to keep close to God in a loose age; spend not your time in complaining of the licentiousness of the times, in the mean while setting up a toleration in your own hearts and lives. That private Christian who does not labour to oppose profaneness with a river of tears, would never, if he could, bear it down with a stream of power. Lay the foundation of mortification deep. Reserve no lust from the stroke of Jesus Christ. Take heed of pleasing yourselves in a bare formal profession. Labour to be rooted in Christ. He who is but a visible Christian, may in a short time cease to be so much as visible; he who speaks of Christ but notionally, may in time be won to speak against him. Love not the world. Beware of scandals; take them not where they are, make them not where they are not. The common sin of our times, is to blacken religion, and then to fear and hate it. Despise not the providences of God in the world ; they are signs of God's mind, though not of his love. Delight in the public ordinances, and highly esteem faithful ministers; they and religion are commonly blasted together. Shun seducers. Sit down under a minister as well as under a preacher. He who will hear every one, may at length be brought to hear none; and he who will hear him preach who ought not, may soon be left to learn that which he ought not. Preserve a tender conscience; every step you take fear a snare ; read your own hearts in the wickedness of others. Be not slight in closet services; and oft think of God in your shops, for there you think you have least leisure, but sure you have most need to do so. Let your speech be alway with grace, and a word or two of Christ in every company, if possible ; and yet not
, out of form, but feeling.
These Lectures here presented might sooner have seen the light, had I not lately met with such hinderances (sufficiently known) as I once expected would have stopped them altogether. The main of this employment hath lain upon me since that time, which, considering my many other employments, hath not been long, though otherwise long enough to have performed this work much more exactly. I here present you, though not with half of the Epistle, yet with more than the one half of that which upon the whole I preached. I have not knowingly left out any passages delivered in the pulpit. The other part I promise in a similar volume to this, so soon as God gives strength and more leisure, if this find acceptance with the church of God. And now (brethren) I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified; resting
Your servant in the work of Christ,
TO PART II. OF THE ORIGINAL EDITION.
TO MY DEAR FLOCK AND MUCH HONOURED FRIENDS,
THE CHURCH OF GOD,
IN THE PRECINCT OF BLACKFRIARS, LONDON.
CHRISTIAN AND RESPECTED Friends, It cannot seem strange that I, who have lately given myself to the service of your souls, should now dedicate my book to you for that purpose. Nor can any wonder, since you have lately imitated your predecessors in the loving and unanimous call of your now unworthy pastor, that he should endeavour to follow the steps of those excellent servants of Christ your former ministers, who, in their times, both by preaching and printing, bestowed their labours upon you for your spiritual benefit.
I have frequently heard that Blackfriars is one of those places in London commonly accounted and called privileged, in respect of sundry civil immunities bestowed upon it. But what are all those political, in comparison of the spiritual, privileges which God has afforded to you of this place ? in respect of which I much question whether any congregation in London, (I think I may take a far larger compass,) has been equal to you in the privilege of enjoying so long'a continuance of an able, orthodox, and soul-saving ministry. Those two excellent and eminently faithful servants of Christ, Mr. Egerton, and Doctor Gouge, lately deceased, spent, as I am informed, about seventy years in their ministerial labours among the people of Blackfriars.
The gospel in your congregation has continued, I think, beyond the remembrance of the oldest (the Lord grant that it may outlive the youngest) now living among you. God has, as it were, made his sun to stand still upon your Gibeon, and his moon upon your Ajalon, to give you light to overcome your spiritual enemies. How many learned and pithy expositions, savoury discourses, and excellent tractates have had their conception in your parish, and their birth in your pulpit! You have enjoyed the monthly administration of the Lord's supper, as your late reverend pastor informed me, these five and forty years, without any interruption. I mention not these things to occasion your glorying in men, or any outward privileges, but only to put you upon self-reflection and holy examination how you have thriven in holiness under all these enjoyments. Church privileges, I grant, are excellent mercies in their kind: without the ordinances, places are commonly as void of civility as
Christianity; they are but magna latrocinia, dens of robbers, and places of prey, dark places of the earth filled with violence. Church privileges, so far as they are visibly owned, make men visible saints in opposition to the world; yea, and in their due and holy use real and * true saints in opposition to hypocrites. But notwithstanding all these, the means of grace,
. without grace by those means, leave those who enjoy them in the same condition, in respect of any saving benefit, with those who want them. The ark at Shiloh, Jer. vii. 12, the sacrifices devoured by Ariel, Isa. xxix. 1, 2, circumcision in the flesh, Rom. ii. 25, 28, 29; Jer. ix. 25, 26, the temple of the Lord, Hag. ii. 9, the rock and manna, the Lord's supper at Corinth, 1 Cor. xi. 20, were privileges which did not savingly profit the enjoyers, who were not holy by their holy things, but their holy things rather were made unholy by them. Nay, bare outward privileges increase condemnation. The valley of vision has the heaviest burden. The Israelites, who had not monthly, but daily sacraments, eating and drinking them every meal, were most severely destroyed. These were but as Uriah's letters, which they carried to their own destruction. The higher Chorazin and Bethsaida's elevation was, the greater was their downfal. Justice will pluck the unreformed from the altar of privileges. Sermons do but heat hell, and sacraments are but oil and pitch to make its flame scald and consume the more painfully. The barren oak was not so near cursing as the barren fig-tree; nor are weeds on the dunghill so near plucking up as those in the garden : by none is the name of God so much dishonoured, mercy so much abused, hypocrisy so odiously veiled, the power of godliness so bitterly hated, as by many who have most enjoyed church privileges. Put not off your souls therefore, dear Christians, with outward privileges, without inward grace by those privileges. What is it more to have a name to live, and to be spiritually dead, to have titular sanctity and real impiety, than for a starving man to be praised for a plentiful housekeeper? When God had bestowed upon Abram a new name, and changed it to Abraham, he gave him also a new blessing. The unprofitable under the means of grace are therefore worse than those who want those means, because they are not better. The more a ship is laden with gold, the deeper she sinks; the more you are laden with golden privileges, the deeper, if you miscarry, will be your destruction. Though the minister's industry without success acquits him, yet it condemns his people. He may be sincere, yet unsuccessful; but then the people in the mean time, if unprofitable, show themselves hypocritical. You never commend your ministers but by getting the saving impressions of what they preach upon your hearts. Christ reproved the young man for calling him “Good master,” because, saith Calvin, he had never received any saving good from Christ. The sheep only praise the care of the careful shepherd by their wool, milk, fruitfulness, and fatness. Let it never be said that God gives the food of life to you, as a rich man gives a nurse good diet for the benefit of his child, only for the thriving of strangers. Be not as Indians, who go naked and beggarly in the midst of all their heaps of gold. Let not sermons be as jewels only to hang in your ears, but let them be locked up in the cabinets of your hearts. Consider,
. ordinances are never yours till you get the savour of them upon your spirits. the table may be taken away, but not when by eating it is turned into a man's substance. Books may be stolen out of a scholar's study, but a thousand thieves can never take away the learning which he has gotten into his head by studying those books. The grace of privileges is only safe. You shall be stripped of these when you come to die, but the grace of them will stick by you for ever. Christ may say to those at the last day,“ Depart,” who have eaten and drunk with him, and cast out devils; but never will he say so to those who, having eaten and drunk with him, have also eat and drunk himself, who have cast lust out of their souls, and gotten a broken heart for sin, or obtained the least dram of sanctifying grace. Oh how much is a drop of inward holiness better than a sea of outward privileges !
This book with which I here present you, is the second part of my Exposition upon the Divine and excellent Epistle of Jude. The apostle's scope in writing this Epistle was to stir
up these Christians to oppose those who would have seduced them to libertinism, and to contend for the faith against those who turned the grace of God into wantonness; who allowed themselves to live, or rather, like beasts, to wallow in all filthiness, under pretence of advancing free grace; and who laboured to make the saints, by being Christians, to be. come heathens, as the apostles had made them of heathens to become Christians. The endeavour of Satan was to drive people from one extreme to another; and since he could not, by keeping some under Judaism, cause them to deny that Christ had purchased for them any liberty at all, he most earnestly laboured, by driving them to atheism and looseness, to make them believe that now they had liberty to be as bad as they would ; and that the worse they were, the better they were ; and the lower they were in sin, the higher in Christian perfection. And hence it was that these later Epistles, one of the last of which was this of Jude, are principally spent in opposing a feigned, workless, lifeless faith, and in administering antidotes against those doctrines of profaneness and libertinism, wherewith the times grew the more infested, as the doctrine of grace grew the more to be cried up and advanced.
It is now a complete year since I began to put pen to paper for preparing this second part for the press. And it might long since have been finished, had not many other employments hindered. It has cost me, I confess, some studious hours; but the kind acceptance which the first part found from the church of God encouraged me to look beyond the difficulty of the work, and made me unwilling to leave this Commentary longer unfinished. I shall con
I clude with my earnest and humble supplication to the Father of lights, that this endeavour, among others, may advance the spiritual progress of the church, and principally of you, my dear and beloved friends, so in grace here that you may be fitted for glory hereafter. So prays, sirs,
Your affectionate and faithful servant,
for the good of your souls,
WILLIAM JENKYN. Blackfriars, Feb. 22, 1653.