Baxter - BV4831 84 F3 1830

4 INTRODUCTORY ESSAY. external things. They thus practically learned the vanity and nothing- ness of life, except in its relation to eternity ; and they declared to their fellow-creatures the mysteries of the kingdom of God, with the tone of men who knew that the lightest word which they spoke out weighed, in the balance of reason as well as of the sanctuary, thevalue of all earth's plans, and politics, and interests. They were upon high and firm ground. They stood in the midst of that tempestuousocean, secure on the Rock of Ages ; and as they uttered to those around them their invitations, or remonstrances, or consolations, they thought not of the tastes, but of the necessities of menthey thought only of the difference between being lost and being saved, and they cried aloud, and spared not. There is no doubt a great variety of thought, and feeling, and expression, to be met with in the theological writers of that class ; but deep and solemn seriousness is the character of them all. They seem to have felt much. Religion was not allowed to remain as an unused theory in their heads ; they were forced to live on it as their food, and to have recourse to it as their only strength and comfort. Hence their thoughts are never given as abstract views ; they are always deeply impregnated with sentiment. Their style reminds us of the light which streams through the stained and storied windows of an ancient cathedral. It is not light merely, but light modified by the rich hues, and the quaint forms, and the various incidents, of the pictured medium through which it passes. So these venerable worthies do not give us merely ideas, but ideas colored by the deep affections of their own hearts ; they do not merely give us truth, but truth in its historical application to the various struggles, and difficulties, and dejections, of their strangely chequered lives. This gives a great interest to their writings. They are real men, and not books, that we are conversing with. And the peace, and the strength, and the hope, which they describe; are not the fictions of fancy, but the positive and substantial effects of the knowledge of God òii their own minds. They are thus not merely waymarks to direct our journeyings ; they seem themselvespilgrims travelling on the same road, and encouraging us to keep pace with them. In their books, they seem thus still to journey, still to combat; but, O let us think of the bright reality i their contests are past, their labors are over; they have fought the good fight, and they are now at rest, made perfect in Christ Jesus. They are joined to that cloud of witnesses, of whom the world was not worthy ; and their names are inscribed in the rolls of heaven ; yet not for their own glory, but for the glory of himwho washed them from their sins in his own blood, and whose strength was made perfect in their weakness.