Loving Warning

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:
~ 1 Thessalonians 2:13-14

That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
~ Hebrews 6:12

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
~ Hebrews 3:14

An Account of the Life and Death of that Excellent Minister of Christ, the Reverend Joseph Alleine. Letters Three to Eight, by Joseph Alleine.


(Warning to Professors.)

To my most dearly beloved, my Christian Friends in Tauntott, Salvation.

MOST LOVING BRETHREN, —I shall never forget your old kindnesses, and the entire affections that you have shed upon me, not by drops, but by floods; would I never so fain forget them, yet I could not, they are so continually renowned; for there is never a day but I hear of them; nay, more than hear of them, I feel and taste them. The God that hath promised to them that give to a prophet though but a cup of cold water, shall receive a prophet’s reward;—he will recompence your labour of love, your fervent prayers, and constant cries, your care for my welfare, your bountiful supplies, who have given me, not a cup of cold water, but the wine of your loves, with the sense and tidings whereof I am continually refreshed. I must, I do, and will bless the Lord as long as I live, that he hath cast my lot in so fair a place, to dwell in your communion; and especially to go in and out before yqu, and to be the messenger of the Lord of Hosts to you, to proclaim his law, and to preach his excellencies, to be his spokesman to you, and to woo for him, and to espouse you to one husband, and to present you as a chaste virgin unto Christ. Lord! how unworthy am I. everlastingly unworthy of this glorious dignity, which I do verily believe the brightest angels in heaven would be glad of, if the Lord saw it fit to employ them in this work! Well, I do not, I can not repent, notwithstanding all the difficulties and inconveniences that do attend his despised servants, and hated ways, and that are like to attend them; for we have but sipped yet of the cup; but I have set my hand to his plough; my ministry I took up with you, and my testimony I finished with you, though I thought I had espoused you till death: and when I was entered into that sacred office, which through rich grace I was employed in, I told you, in the close of what I spake before the laying of the holy hands upon me, ‘ Most gladly do I take up this ‘ office with all the persecution, affliction, difficulties, tribulation, and inconveniencies, that do and ‘ may attend it.’ And, blessed be God, I am, through his goodness, of the same mind still, and my tribulations for Christ do (to him be glory! for to me belongs nothing but shame and confusion of face) confirm my choice and my resolution to serve him with much more than my labours. Verily, brethren, it is a good choice that I have commended to you: Oh! that there might not be one found among you that hath not made Mary’s choice, I mean of that good part which shall never be taken away from you. Brethren, let them take up with the world that have no better portion: be content that they should carry the bell, and bear away the riches and preferments, and glory and splendor of the world. Alas! you have no reason to envy them: verily they have a lie in their right hand. Ah! how soon will their hopes fail them! How soon will the crackling blast be out, and leave them in eternal darkness! They shall go to the generation of their fathers, they shall never see light, like sheep they shall be laid in their graves, and the upright shall have do minion over them in the morning. But for my brethren, I am jealous that none of you should come short of the glory of God. I ambitious for you, that you should be all the heirs of an endless life, the living hopes of the saints, the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fades not away.

Ah! my brethren, why should not you be all happy? I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy, lest a promise being left you of entering into his rest, any of you should come short of it. O look dili gently, lest any man fail of the grace of God. Alas 1 how it pities me to see this rest neglected! How it grieves me that any of you should fall short of mercy at last! That any of that flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made me in part overseer, should perish; when Christ hath done so much for you, and when his under-officers (through his grace, for we are not sufficient of ourselves,) have done somewhat to re cover and save them. Ah! dear brethren, I was in that earnest with you when I besought you out of the pulpit, many a time, to give a bill of divorce to your sins, and to accept of the match and the mercy that in the name of God Almighty I did there offer to you. Alas! how it pitied me to look over so great a congregation, and to think that I could not, for my life I could not, persuade them, one quarter of them in likelihood, to be saved! How it moved me to see your diligence in flocking, not only to the stated exercises, but to the repetitions, and to most hazardous opportunities, for which you are greatly to be commended, since the law forbad my public preach ing; and yet to think that many of you that went so far, were like to perish for ever for want of going further! I must praise your diligent attendance on all opportunities. Blessed be God that made a willing ministry and a willing people! For I remember how I have gone furnished with a train! How I went with the multitude to the House of God, with the voice of joy and praises, with the multitude that kept holy-days. The remembrance of which moves my soul; but, O my flock, my most dear flock, how fain would I carry you farther than the external and outward profession! O! how loath am I to leave you there I How troubled to think that any of you should go far and hazard much for religion, and yet miscarry for ever by the hand of some unmortified lust; as secret pride, or untamed passion, or an un bridled tongue, or, which I fear most of all, a pre dominate love of the world in your hearts. Alas! must it be so, and is there no remedy but I must carry you to heaven’s gate and leave you there? Oh! that I should leave the work of your souls but half done; and bring you no farther than the almost of christi* anity! Hear, O my people, hear, although I may command you, upon your utmost peril, in the name of the Lord Jesus, that shall shortly judge you, I beseech you, I warn you as a father doth his children, to look to the settling and securing of your everlasting condition, and for life take heed of your-resting in the outer-part of religion; but to be restless till you find the thorough change of regeneration within, that you are quite new in the frame and bent of your hearts: for here is the main of religion in the hidden man of the heart. For Christ’s sake, for your souls’ sake look to it, that you build upon the rock, that you be sure in the foundation work that you do unfeignedly deliver yourselves over to the Lord to be under his command and at his dis pose in all things. See that you make no exceptions, no reserve, that you cast over-board all your worldly hopes, and count upon parting with all for Christ: that you take him alone for your whole happiness. Wonder not that I so often inculcate this if it be well here, it is well all; if unsound here, the error is in the foundation, and you are undone. Brethren, I see great trials coming on, when we shall see professors fall like leaves in the autumn, unless they be well settled: therefore it is that I would fain have you look to your standing, and to secure the main. And for you whose souls are soundly wrought upon, O make sure whatever you do; get and keep your evidences clear! How dread* ful would your temptations be, if you should be called to part with all for Christ, and not be sure of him neither. Get a right and clear understanding of the terms of life, which I have set before you in that form of covenanting with God in Christ, that I com mended to you: I would that none of you should be without a copy of it. Be much in observing your own hearts, both in duties and out-crying mightily to God for assurance. If you cannot discern ytmi-estate yourselves, go to somebody that is able and faithful, and fully open your case, your evidences, and doubts, and be extraordinary strict and watch ful in your whole course, and I doubt not but you will quickly grow up to assurance.

I cannot tell how to make an end, methinks I could write all the day to you, but my straights of time are great, and my letter already too long, yet I cannot conclude till I have given you my unfeigned thanks for your most kind and gracious letter. Surely it shall be in store with me, and laid up among my treasures. That God is pleased so t« unite your hearts to me, and to make use of me for your edification, is matter of highest joy unto me; as also to see your stedfastness in Christ, your un shaken resolutions notwithstanding all the tempter’s wiles. Go on, my dearly beloved, and the Lord strengthen your hands and your hearts, and lift yow up above the fears of men. My most dear brother Norman salutes you with manifold loves and respects…
crown of perseverance; as also brother Turner. The Lord strengthen, establish, settle you, and after you have suffered a while, make you perfect. I leave my brethren in the everlasting arms; and rest,. Your Ambassador in bonds,

JOSEPH ALLEINE. from the common gaol at Juelchester, June 13th, 1663.


(A Call to the Unconverted.)

{To the beloved people, the inhabitants of the town of Taunton, grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. MOST ENDEARED AND BELOVED FRIENDS, I do most readily acknowledge myself a debtor to you all, and a servant of all, and therefore I have sent these few lines to salute you all. My lines did fall an a fair place when the Lord did cast my lot among you; for which I desire to be thankful. God hath been pleased to work a mutual affection between me and you. I remember the tears and prayers that you have sent me hither with, and how I saw your hearts in your eyes. How can I forget how you poured out your souls upon me? And, truly, you are a people much upon my heart, whose welfare is the matter of my continual prayers, care, and study.

And Oh! that I knew how to do you good: Ah! how certainly should never a son of you miscarry if I knew that to save you. Ah! how it pities me to think how so many of you should remain in your sins, after so many and so long endeavours to convert and bring them in. Once more, Oh! my beloved, once more hear the call of the Most High God unto you. The prison preaches to you the same doctrine that the pulpit did. Hear, O people, hear; he that hath an ear let him hear. The Lord of life and glory offers you all mercy, and peace, and blessedness: Oh, why should you die? Whosoever will, let him take of the waters of life freely. What! miss of life when it is to be had for the taking? God forbid! O my brethren, my soul yearns for you, and my bowels to wards you. Ah! that I did but know what arguments to use with you: who shall chuse my words for me that I may prevail with sinners not to reject their own mercy? How shall I get within them? How shall I reach them? Oh! that I did but know the words that would pierce them! That I could but get between then- sins and them. Beloved brethren, the Lord Jesus hath made me, most unworthy, his spokesman, to bespeak your hearts for him: and oh, that I knew but how to woo for him, that I might prevail! These eight years have I been calling, and yet how great a part do remain visibly in their sins; and how few, alas J how few souls have I gained to Christ by sound conversion! Once more I desire with all possible earnestness to apply myself to you. j I have thought, it may be a sermon out of a prison I might do that which I could not do after my long striving with you, but have left undone: come then, O friends, and let us reason together.

Many among you remain under the power of ignorance: Ah! how often have I told you the dangerous, yea, damnable estate that such are in. Never make excuses, nor flatter yourselves that you shall be saved though you go on in this; I have told you often, and now tell you again, God must be false of his word, if ever you be saved without being brought out of the state of ignorance: If ever you enter in at the door of Heave^ it must be by the key of knowledge; you can not be saved, except you be brought to the knowledge of the truth. A people that remain in gross ignorance, that are without understanding, the Lord that made them will not have mercy on them. O why will you flatter yourselves, and wilfully deceive your own selves, when the God of truth hath said you shall surely die if you go on in this estate? Oh, for the love of God and of your souls, I beseech you awake and bestir yourselves to get tire saving knowledge of God: you that are capable of learning a trade to live by, are you not capable of learning the way to be saved? Yea, I doubt not but you are capable if you would but beat your heads about it, and take pains to get it. And is it not pity that you should perish for ever for want of a little pains, and study, and care to get the knowledge of God? Study the catechism; if possible, get it by heart; if not, read it often, or get it read to you; cry unto God for know ledge; improve the little you have by living answer able. Search the scriptures daily, get them read to you if you cannot read them. Improve your sabbaths diligently, and I doubt not but in the use of these means you will sooner arrive to the knowledge of Christ than of a trade. But for thee, O hardened sinner, that wilt make thy excuses that thou hast not time nor abilities to get knowledge; and to sit still without it, I pronounce unto thee that thou shalt surely perish. And I challenge thee to tell me, if thou canst, how thou wilt answer it before the Most High God, when he shall sit in judgment upon thee, that thou wouldst be contented to undergo a seven years’ apprenticeship to learn how to get thy living, and that thou mightest have got the knowledge of the principles of religion in half the time, but thou wouldst not beat thy head about it.

Many are swallowed up in mere profaneness: Alas! that there should be any such in a place of such mejms and mercies! But it cannot be concealed. Many of them proclaim their sin like Sodom, and carry their deadly leprosy in their foreheads. I am ashamed to think that in Taunton there should be so many alehouse-haunters and tipplers, so many lewd gamesters, and rioters, and debauched livers; so many black-mouthed swearers, who have oaths and curses for their common language, so many railers at godliness, and profane scoffers, so many liars and deceitful dealers, and unclean and wanton wretches. O what a long list will these and such like make up, if put together: it saddens me to mention such as these. O how crimson is their guilt! How often have you been warned, and yet are still unreformed, yea loose and profane. Yet one warning more have I sent after you from the Lord, to repent. Return, O sinners. What! will you run into everlasting burn ings with your eyes open?

Repent, O drunkards, or else you shall be shut out of the kingdom of heaven. (1 Cor. vi. 9,10.) Re pent, O swearers, else you shall fall into condemnation. (James v. 12.) Repent, O liars, put away ly ing, and speak every one truth to his neighbour; else you shall have your part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. (Rev. xx. 8.) Repent, O company-keepers, forsake the foolish and live; but a. companion of the wicked shall be destroyed. (Prov. xiii. 20.) Repent, you deceivers, of your unrighteous dealings, or else you shall have no inheritance in the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. vi. 9, 10.) The Lord, that made us, knows my earnest desire for your conversion and salvation; and that I speak not this to you out of any evil will toward you, for I would lie at your feet to do you good, but out of a sense of your deplorable estate while you remain in your sins. I know there is mercy for you if you do soundly repent and reform, and bow to the righteousness and government of the Lord Christ: But if you go on, and say, you shall yet have peace, I pronounce unto you, that there is no escape, but the Lord will make his wrath to smoak against you, he will wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses.

Others have escaped the gross pollutions of the world, but stick in the form of godliness, and con tent themselves with a negative righteousness, that they are no drunkards, nor swearers, &c. or at best with an outward conformity to the duties of religion, or some common workings, instead of a saving. O I am jealous for you that you should not lose the things that you have wrought, and miss your reward for want of sincerity: for the Lord’s sake put on, and beware of perishing in the suburbs of the city of refuge. Beg of God to make through-work with you, and be jealous for yourselves; get a right un derstanding of the difference between a hypocritt and a sincere Christian, and try your estates much, but only with those marks that you are sure from the scripture will abide God’s trial.

But for you that fear the Lord in sincerity, I have nothing but good and comfortable words: I have proclaimed your happiness in the last token I sent to the town: I mean the abstract of the covenant of grace, upon the privileges, comforts, mercies there summed up, and set before you. May your souls ever live! What condition can you devise wherein there will not be abundance of comfort, and matter of joy unspeakable, to you? O beloved, know your own happiness, and live in that holy admiring, com mending, adoring, praising of your gracious God that becomes the people of his praise. I have been long, yet methinks I have not emptied half my heart unto you: I trespass much, I fear, upon the bearer, therefore in haste I commend you to God. The good-will of Him that dwelt in the bush be with you all! The Lord create a defence upon you, and deliverance for you I The Lord cover you all the day, and make you to dwell between his shoulders! I desire your constant, instant, earnest prayers for me; and rest…

A willing labourer, & thankful sufferer for you,


from the common gaol in Juelchcster, July Uh, 1663.

LETTER V. (Trust in God, and be sincere.)

To my most endeared friends, the servants of Christ in Tannton, grace and peace.

Most dearly beloved and longed-for, my joy and crown,

My heart’s desire and prayer to God for you is, that you may be saved. I know that you are the but of men’s rage and malice: but you may satisfy yourselves as David in his patient sustaining of Shi-mei’s fury and curses: It may be the Lord will look upon our affliction, and requite good for their cursing this day. But however it be for that, be sure to hold on your way: your name indeed is cast forth as evil, and you are hated of all men for Christ’s sake, for your profession of his gospel, and cleaving to his •ways and servants. But let not this discourage you, for you are now more than ever blessed; only hold fast, that no man take your crown. Let not any that have begun in the Spirit, end in the flesh. Do not forsake God, till he forsake you. He that endureth to the end shall be saved. The promise is to him that overcometh; therefore think not of look ing back. Now you have set your hands to Christ’s Plough, though you labour hard and suffer long, the crop will pay for all: Now the Lord is trying what credit he hath in the world, and who they be that will trust him. The unbelieving world are all for present pay; they must have ready money, some thing in hand, and will not follow the Lord when there is like to be any great hazard and hardship in his service. But now is the time for you, my be loved, to prove yourselves believers, when there is nothing visible but present hazard and expence, and difficulty in your maker’s service. Now it will be seen who can trust the Lord, and who trusts him not: Now, my brethren, bear you up, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong: Now give glory to God by believing. If you can trust in his promises for your reward now, when nothing appears but the displeasure of rulers, and bonds, and losses, and tri bulation on every side, this will be somewhat like believers. Brethren, I beseech you to reckon upon no other but crosses here. Let none of you dream of an earthly paradise, or flatter yourselves with dreams of sleeping in your ease, and temporal pros perity, and carrying heaven too. Think not to keep your estates, and liberties, and consciences too: Count not upon rest till you come to the land of promise. Not that I would have any of you to upon hazards uncalled: No, we shall meet them soon enough in the way of our duty, without we will balk it, and shamefully turn aside. But I would have you cast over-board your worldly hopes, and count not upon an earthly felicity, but be content to wait till you come on the other side of the grave. Is it not enough to have a whole eternity of happiness yet behind? If God do throw in the com forts of this life too in the bargain, I would not have you throw them back again, or despise the goodness of the Lord: But I would, my brethren, that you should use this world, as not abusing it; that you should be crucified to the world, and the world to you; that you should declare plainly that you seek a country, a better country, which is a heavenly. Ah! my dear brethren, I beseech you carry it like pilgrims and strangers; I beseech you abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against your souls. For what have we to do with the customs and courses and fashions of this world, who are strangers in it? Be contented with travellers’ lots: know you not that you are in a strange land? All is well as long as it is well at home; I pray you, brethren, daily and frequently to consider your condition and station. Do you not remember that you are in an inn? And what, though you be but poorly attended, and meanly accommodated; though you fare hard, and lie hard; —Is this a strange thing? What should travellers look for else? Will you set forth in a journey, and promise yourselves nothing but fair way and fair weather? Shall a man put forth to sea and reckon upon nothing but the calm? If you were of the world, the world would love his own. But now God hath chosen you, and called you out of the world., therefore the world hateth you: But remember, my brethren, it is your duty to love them, even while they hate you; and to pray for mercy for them that will shew no mercy, nor do any justice for us. This I desire you to observe as a great duty of the present times: And let not any so far forget their duty and pattern, as to wish evil to them that do evil to us, or to please themselves with the thoughts of being even with them. Let us commit ourselves to Him that judgeth righteously, and shew ourselves the children of the Most High, who doth good to his enemies, and is kind to the unkind and unthankful: And what though they doth hate us? Their love and good-will were much more to be feared than their hatred, and a far worse sign. Brethren, keep yourselves in the love of God; here is wisdom. O happy souls, that are his favourites! For the Lord’s sake look to this, make sure of something: look to your sincerity above all things in the world: let not any of you conclude, that because you are of the suffering party, therefore all is well: Look to the foundation, that your hearts be soundly taken off from every sin, and: set upon God above as your blessedness: Beware that none of you have only a name to live, and be no more than almost christians. For the love of your souls, make a diligent search, and try upon what ground you stand; for it heartily pities me to think that any of you should be in so deep, and hazard so much, as these must do that will not cleave to the hated ways of the people of God, and yet lose all at last for want of being thorow and sound in the main work, I mean in con version and regeneration. None so miserable in all the world as an unsound professor of religion now is; for he shall be hated and persecuted of the world, because he takes up a profession, and yet rejected of God too, because he sticks in a profession. But when once you bear the marks of God’s favour, you need not fear the world’s frowns: Cheer up therefore, brethren, be strong in the Lord, and of good courage under the world’s usage: Fear not, in our Father’s house there is bread enough and room enough; this is sufficient to comfort us m&der all the inconveniences of the way, that we have so happy a home, so worthy a portion, so ready a Father, so goodly a heritage, so sure a tenure. Oh, comfort one another with these words. Let God see that you can trust in his word: let the world see that you can live upon a God. J shall share my prayers and loves among you all, and commit you to the Almighty God. The Keeper of Israel that never slumbereth nor sleepeth, be your watchman and keeper to the end! Farewell.

I am

A fervent well-wisher of your temporal and eternal happiness,


From the common gaol at Juelchester, July, 1603,


(Look out of your Graves upon the World.)

To my most dearly beloved Friends, the chosen of God i», Taunton, grace and peace.

Most endeared Christians,

My heart is with you, though I am absent as to my bodily presence from you, and therefore as I have often already, so I have now written to you to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, and to call upon you for your stedfast continuing, and vigorous proceeding, in the ways of God. Dear friends, and fellow soldiers under Christ the Captain of our salvation, consider your calling and station, and approve yourselves as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, as men of resolution and courage, be discouraged with no difficulties of your present warfare. As for human affairs, I would have you to be, as you are, men of peace: I would have you armed, not for resisting, (God forbid!) but for suffering only, as the Apostle hints: You should resist, even to the uttermost, striving against sin. Here you must give no quarter, for if you spare but one Agag, the life of your souls must go for the life of your sins. You must make no peace, for God will not smile on that soul that smiles on sin, nor have any peace with him that is at peace with his enemy. Other enemies you must forgive, and love, and pray for; (which I again desire you to mind as one spe-* cial duty of the times;) but for these spiritual ene mies, all your affections and all your prayers must be engaged against them; yea, you must admit not parley: It is dangerous to dispute with temptations. Remember what Eve lost by parleying with sin: You must fly from temptations,, and put them…at first with a peremptory denial. If you will bin hear the devil’s arguments, and the flesh’s pleas and fair pretences, it is a hundred to one but you are en snared by his sophistry. And for this present evil world, the Lord deliver you from its snares. Surely you had need watch and be sober, and use your spiritual weapons dexterously and diligently, or else this world is like to undo you, and destroy you. I have often warned you not to build upon an external happiness, and that you should promise yourselves nothing but hardship here. Oh still remember your station: Soldiers must not count upon rest and ful ness, but hunger and hardness. Labour to get right apprehensions of the world. Do not think these things necessary; one thing is needful: You may be happy in the want of all outward comforts. Do not think yourselves undone, if brought to want or poverty: Study eternity, and you will see it to be little material to you, whether you are poor or rich; and that you may never have such an opportunity for your advantage in all your lives, as when you put all to hazard, and seem to run the vessel upon the rocks. Set your enemies one against the other; death against the world; no such way to get above the world, as to put yourselves into the possession of death. Look often upon your dust that you shall be reduced to, and imagine you saw your bones tumbled out of your graves, as they are like shortly to be, and men handling your skulls, and enquiring ‘ Whose is this?’ Tell me of what account will the world be then, what good will it do you. Put yourselves often into your graves, and look out from thence upon the world, and see what judgment you have of it then. Must not you be shortly forgot among the dead? Your places will know you no more, and your memory will be no more among men, and then what will it profit you to have lived in fashion and repute, and to have been men of esteem? ‘ One serious walk over a church-yard,’ as one speaks, ‘ might make a man mortified to the world.’ Think upon how many you tread, but you know them not. No doubt they had their estates, their friends, their trades, their businesses, and kept as much stir in the world as others do now. But alas, what are they the better for any, for all this? Know you not that this must be your own case very shortly? Oh the happiness of deceived man! How miserably is he bewitched, and befooled, that he should expend himself for that which he knows shall for ever leave him! Brethren, I beseech you, lay no stress upon these perishing things, but labour to be at a holy indifference about them. Is it for one that is in his wits to sell his God, his conscience, his soul, for things that he is not sure to keep a week, nor a day; and which he is sure, after a few sleep-ings and wakings more, to leave behind him for ever? Go and talk with dying men, and see what apprehensions they have of the world: If any should come to such as these, and tell them ‘ Here is such’ and such preferments for you, you shall have such titles of honour and delights, if you will now dis-ef own religion, or subscribe to iniquity:’ Do you think such a motion would be embraced? Brethren, why should we not be wise in time? Why should we not now be of the mind of which we know we shall be all shortly? Woe to them that will not be wise till it be to no purpose! Woe to them whose eyes nothing but death and judgment will open! Woe to them that, though they have been warned by others, and have heard the world’s greatest darlings in death to cry out of its vanity, worthlessness, and deceitfumess, and have been told where and how it would leave them, yet would take no warning, but only must serve themselves to be for warnings to others! Ah, my beloved, beware there be no worldly professors among you, that will part rather with their part in Paradise than their part in Paris; that will rather part with their consciences than with their estates; that have secret reserves in heart to save themselves whole, when it comes to the pinch; and not to be of the religion that will undo them in the world. Be ware that none of you have your hearts where your feet should be, and love your Mammon before your Maker. It is time for you to learn, with Paul, to be crucified to the world.

But it is time for me to remember that ’tis a letter, and to contain myself within my limits. The God of all grace stablish, strengthen, and settle you in these shaking times, and raise your hearts above the fears •f the world’s threats, and above the ambition of its favours. My dearest loves to you all, with my fervent desire of your prayers. May the Lord of Hosts be with you, and the God of Jacob your re fuge! Farewell, my dear brethren, farewell, and be strong in the Lord. I am,

Yours to serve you in the gospel, whether by doing or suffering,


From the common gaol at Juelchester, June 21st, 1663.


(First, Christian Marks: Second, Duties.)

To the beloved, my most endearing- and endeared Friends, the Flock of Christ in Taunton, Salvation. Most dearly Moved and longed-for, my joy and crown,

I must say of you as David did of Jonathan, ‘ Very pleasant have you been unto me, and your ‘ love to me is wonderful.’ And as I have formerly taken great content in that my lot was cast among you, so through grace I rejoice in my present lot, that I am called to approve my love to you by suffering for you; for you, I say. For you know that I have not sought yours but you; and that for doing my duty to your souls, I am here in these bonds, which I do cheerfully accept through the grace of God that strengtheneth me. Oh! that your souls might be quickened and enlarged by these my bonds! That your hands might be strengthened, and your hearts encouraged in the Lord your God by our sufferings! See to it, my dearly beloved, that you stand fast in the power of the holy doctrine which we have preached from the pulpit; preached at the bar; preached from the prison to you. It is a gospel worth the suffering for: See that you follow after holiness without which no man shall see God. Oh! the madness of the blind world, that they should put from them the only plank upon which they can escape to heaven. Surely the enemies of holiness are their own enemies. Alas for them! They know not what they do. What would not these foolish virgins do at last, when it is too late for a little of the oil of the wise? Oh, for one dram of that grace which they have scorned and despised! But let not any of you, my dear people, be wise too late: Look diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God. Beware that none of you be cheated through the subtlety of satan and deceitfulness of your hearts •with counterfeit grace. There is never a grace’ but hath its counterfeit: And there is nothing in all the world that is more common or more easy, than to mistake common and counterfeit grace for true and saving; and remember, you are undone for ever more if you should die in such a mistake. Not that I would shake the confidence of any sound believer, who upon often and thorough search into the scrip ture and his own heart, and putting himself upon God’s trial, hath gotten good evidence that his graces are of the right kind: Build your confidence sure. See that you get the knowledge of the certain and infallible marks of salvation; and make sure, by great observing your own hearts, that these marks be in you, and then you cannot be too confident. But, as you love your souls, take heed of a ground less confidence. Take heed of being confident before you have tried. Dear brethren, I would fain have you all secured against the day of judgment; I would that the states of your souls were all well settled. Oh how comfortably might you think of any troubles, if you were but sure of your pardons! Were your salvation out of doubt, no matter though other things were in hazard. I beseech you, whatever you neglect, look to this: I am afraid there are among you that have not made your peace with God yet; that are not yet acquainted with that great work of conversion: Such I would warn and charge before the living God to speed into Christ, and without any more disputes or delays, to put away their iniquities, and to come in and deliver up themselves to Jesus Christ, that they may be saved. It is not your profession, nor performing external duties, nor partaking of external privileges, that will save you. No, no; you must be converted or condemned. It is not enough that you have some love and liking to God’s ways and people, and are willing to venture some thing for them. All this will not prove you sound Christians. Have your hearts been changed? Have you been soundly convinced of your sins; of your damnable and undone condition in yourselves; and your utter inability to lick yourselves whole again by your own duties? Have you been brought at least to such a sight and sense of sin, as that there is no sin, though agreeable to your constitution, though a support to your gain, but you do heartily abbor it, and utterly disallow of it? Are you brought to such a sense of the beauty of holiness, and of the laws and ways of God, as that you do desire to know the whole mind of God, and would not excuse yourselves by ignorance from any duty, and that you do not allow yourselves in the ordinary neglect of any thing that conscience charges upon you as a duty? Are your very hearts set upon the glorifying and enjoying of God, as your greatest happiness, which you desire more than corn, and wine, and oil? Had you rather be the holiest, than the richest and great est in the world? And is your greatest delight (ordinarily, and when you are yourselves) in the thoughts of God, and in your conversings with God in holy exercises? Is Christ more precious than all the world to you? And are you willing, upon the thorough consideration of the strictness, and holiness, and self-denying nature of his laws, yet to take them all for the rule of your thoughts, words, and actions? And though religion may cost you deai, do you re solve, if God will assist you by his grace, to go through with it, let the cost be what it will? Happy the man that is in such a case! This is a Christian indeed; and whatever you be and do short of this, all is unsound. But you, that bear in your souls the marks of the Lord Jesus above-mentioned, upon you I should lay no other burden, but to hold fast, and make good your ground, and press forward to wards the mark. Thankfully acknowledge the dis tinguishing grace of God to your souls; and live rejoicingly in the hopes of the glory of God, the hopes that shall never make you ashamed. Live daily in the praises of your Redeemer: Be much in acquiring God, and study the worthiness, excellency, and glory of iiis> Attributes. Let your souls be much taken up in contemplating and commending his glorious perfection, and blessing yourselves in the goodly portion you have in him: Live like those that have a God, and then be disconsolate if you can. If there be not more in an infinite God to comfort you, than in a prison, or poverty, or other affliction to deject you, owr preaching is vain, and your faith is vain. Let the thoughts of God be your daily repast; and never be satisfied, till your hearts run out as freely, naturally, constantly, unweariedly after God, as others do after the world. A little force upon your heart for a while to turn them into this holy channel, may quickly come so to ha bituate your minds to holiness that they may natu rally run that way. But it is time to shut up: Farewell, my dear brethren! The Lord God Al mighty be a protection to you, and your exceeding great reward! Farewell in the Lord!

I am, Yours in the bowels of the Lord Jesus,

JOSEPH ALLEINE, From the prison at Juelchester,

Sept, 11th, l665,

P. S. Just now I received your melting letter, to which I am not able now to return an answer, but shall with speed. Your very great affections for me cannot but move me, and make me ready to repeat again the first words of my letter above. The Lord enable me to return something to you for your great loves: I am sensible I have come very short of my duty to you; but I must needs tell you, my bowels are moved with your loves, which I hope I shall greatly prize. Once more farewell!

My dear brother Norman remembers you with much love, desiring that you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye should shine as lights in the world.