A Friendly Letter TO ALL YOUNG MEN Who are desirous to live Godly Lives, And are True MEMBERS OF THE Church of England.

Imprimatur

R. M.

DEarly beloved Brethren and Fellow Members of the Church of England, it is to you that I now Write as a Friend, and a Brother, for I am sure we should be so one to another, and our Saviour maketh it the Great visible Badg of Christianity. For he saith, By this shall all Men know that ye are my Disciples, if ye have Love one for another.

Now to love the Lord our God with all our Hearts, and our Neighbours as our selves, being the true Foundation of Christianity, let us Encourage one another in the practice of the Duty just now mentioned, and let us not refuse the hard­est, and most severe Rules, that are prescribed in Order to it. Though possibly at first Tryal they may be hard, yet custome will make them easie, for thus saith Christ, My Yoke is easie, and my Burthen is light,

And that you should not only begin, but hold also out to the End, you must not only do this your selves, but En­courage one another to do the same; and tho' you have seen by sad Experience that some have begun in the Spirit, and ended in the Flesh: Yet let not this Discourage you, but take your Saviours Advice, St. Mat. 10. 22. For he that indureth to the End shall be saved. For he tels us in St. Luke 9. 62. No man having set his Hand to the Plow, and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God, Therefore as ye have begun, endeavour to go on, from Virtue to Virtue; and you that have found the comfort of leading a good Life, the Joy, and Pleasure of a good Conscience, the Advantage and Benefit of frequenting the Sacrament, the Comfort and Satisfaction of frequenting the Publick Service of the Church; that now see the Odious­ness of those Sins that others dote upon, the Deformity of those Vices others wallow in: You that see the Beauty of that Virtue that others scorn, who taste the Charms of that Grace that others Laugh at, seeing the reasonableness of Christs Precepts, which others count an intollerable Yoke; and have some sense of another World, while Thousands live, as if there were none. In a Word, you that see the Necessity of Holiness, while others make a Mock at it: O! let not these Comforts be hid within your Breasts, but know­ing your selves Converted, strengthen your Brethren as it is Commanded, St. Luke 22. 32. And that you should all sincerely set about this Duty, is the Chief, and only design of [Page 3] this Letter: And since it is Charity to direct the Blind in his way, or if we see our Neighbour in danger of being Robb'd, or his House in danger of being Burnt, to run and help him is Charity. Then certainly it is greater Charity to Instruct the Ignorant, by shewing them the right way to Salvation. And therefore if you see your Brother, or Fellow Servant in danger of being ruined by keeping ill Company, or their Souls in danger of Hell Fire, by Propha­ning God's Sabbath, Neglecting his Laws, and forsaking his Commandments; to help such by Godly Advice, and good Example must be a far greater deed of Charity, and your Duty too: For thus saith the Lord, Levit. 19. 17. Thou shalt not hate thy Brother in thy Heart: Thou shalt in any wise Rebuke thy Neighbour, and not suffer Sin upon him. Be not guilty of this great Crime, upon what pretence soever, But Exhort one another daily, while it is called to Day, least any of you be hardned through the Deceitfulness of Sin, as Heb. 3. 13. Knowing that he which Converteth a Sinner from the Errours of his ways, shall save a Soul from Death, and shall hide a mul­titude of Sins, Epist. of St, James 5. 20. and that you may do this regularly and in order, take our Saviours Advice, Mat. 7. 5. First cast the Beam out of thine own Eye, then thou mayest see clearly to cast out the Mote which is in thy Brothers Eye. And if a man be overtaken in a fault, restore him in the Spirit of meekness, Gal. 6. 1. and build him up again in the Lord. All the Texts almost of Holy Scripture point to this Duty, either by Exhorting, or Commanding us to set about this necessary Work: First, To lead Good Lives our selves, and then to Encourage others to do the same. It is not Controversie that I exhort you to, nor to meddle much with those of another Perswasion, for that is the Mi­nisters Work, but this is your one thing needful, to med­dle with those that own the same Church, and Profess the same Faith, and yet Act contrary to it, in their Lives and [Page 4] Conversations. Put these in mind of their Baptismal Vow, how they then Promis'd to Renounce the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, and yet live within the Embraces of them all; that they dare blame others for their unbelief, while they live like Atheists themselves; that they dare condemn others for their separation from the Church when their own Lives, and Conversations are quite contrary to the worthy Doctrine thereof: That they dare Reproach others for want of seriousness, when they live loose Lives themselves, and consequently are so far from remembring their Creator in the Days of their Youth, that they live in almost all man­ner of sins.

But intreat them to take the wise Mans Counsel Eccles. 5. & 7. That they make no tarrying to turn to the Lord God, and put it not off from Day to Day; Put them in mind of the great Benefit of a Holy Life, and early Piety, and what a Pleasure it will be, when they come to die, to look back upon a well spent Life; and you that have already tasted those Joys, which are the products of a good Conscience, and the Pleasures of a good Life and Godly Conversation, be not afraid to encourage others to do the same; but since you see, that wicked Men take such pains to serve their Lusts, to please their appetites, and gratifie their Senses, why should not you take some pains also to serve your God, to advance his Glory, yea, and to Encourage others likewise to do the same; and if there be but two in a Street that intend really to serve God, to frequent the Sacrament, and Prayers of the Church, let them make it their business to Encourage two more to do the same, and let your Prayers be frequent and servent to God, that he would increase the Number of True Be­lievers, and that it would please him to bring into the way of Truth all such as have Erred and are Deceived.

O Brethren, if you would have God Honoured, and his Laws obeyed, set about this work, and let men see, you are [Page 5] of the best Religion, by your living or the best Lives, and as our Reverend Divines are not wanting in Publick, do you take care to do it in Private, and especially to those with whom you have free liberty to Converse, according to St. Pauls Advice, Thess. 5. 14, 15. Warning them that are unruly, Comforting the Feeble minded, supporting the Weak, patient towards all Men; seeing that none render Evil for Evil to any man, but ever follow that which is Good, both among your selves, and to all Men, and if you are Laugh'd at for your pains; Consider that Blesled are they, who shall be Reviled for Christs sake; you may possibly cast your Pearl before Swine, but let them know that mock at Piety, what a sad after reckoning they shall have, when the judgment shall be set, and the Book opened, 5th. of Wisdom, Then says Solomon, shall the Righteous Man stand in great boldness before the Face of such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his Labours, when they see it, they shall be troubled with a terrible Fear, and shall be amazed at the strangness of this Salvation, so far beyond all that they looked for; then they Repenting, and Groaning for anguish shall say within themselves, This is he whom we have had sometimes in Derision; and a Proverb of Reproach; we Fools counted his Life madness, and his End to be without honour, how is he Numbred among the Chil­dren of God, and his Lot is among the Saints. Then in Sorrow and Grief of Heart shall they Cry out upon them­selves; What hath Pride profited us? Or what good hath Riches with our vaunting brought us? All these things are vanish'd like a shadow, and as a Post that passeth by; but the Righ­teous live for evermore, their reward also is with the most Highest. Intreat them therefore, that they stand in aw, and Sin not, that they Die unto Sin, and live unto Righteousness, beseeching them to Consecrate the Morning, and the youth of their Age to God, making them sensible of the Benefit of Reigning over their sinful Desires, and Passions, beg of [Page 6] them to curb their Anger, and Refrain their Lusts, Mode­rate their Joys, and watch over their sensual Delights, to keep themselves within bounds, to Conquer their hatred to­wards their fellow Christians, to grow Eminent in the love of God, and to advance in Charity to their Neighbours, to kill their Covetousness, and surmount the Hills of Pride, to keep Holy God's Sabbath, and to obey his Laws. Tell them that without doing these things, they serve not God, but themselves, and are so far from being Subjects to him, that they make themselves professed Servants of the Devil. Lay open to them, what a Glorious Benefit it is to be a Sub­ject to the King of Heaven; and what a Gracious Privi­ledge to submit to his Laws, and become his Servant, that this will make them Govern their inordinate Passions and Lusts, for all these fleshly Enemies by God's Grace and Assistance, shall be put in Subjection under their Feet: That he who can do this is a King indeed, for it hath been ac­knowledg'd by all Wife Men in all Ages, that he that Con­quers these Rebels is a greater Commander, than he that lays whole Cities and Countries waste, for in subduing these he Acts but according to his Brutish Appetite: But in Con­quering these inordinate desires, he overcomes himself, and in that consists the highest perfection of Virtue, O tell them therefore that desire either to be happy in this World, or in the World to come; that they First seek the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness, and then all other things shall be ad­ded unto them. Exhorting, that they think it not enough to give him the sleepiest hours of the Day, while they be­stow the lively upon the World, for to sin as long as they can, and then to turn to God, is to play with Religion. First to secure our Temporal Interest, and then to think of making sure of Everlasting Life, is to imagine that God and Death will forbear us till our Old Age, although we have given our Youth and tender Years unto the Devil: O [Page 7] desire them not to flatter themselves with a fancy that they may go on in Wickedness, as well as their Neighbours, or the rest of their Companions, and yet live to Repent at last; for how many alas have been cut off in this Childish stupidi­ty, and they know not with how small a Thread the Sword of Justice hangs over their own Heads, for though God is Merciful, yet he is just, and hath a Trumpet of War to af­fright the sinner from his Wickedness, as well as a Scepter of Love to encourage and allure the Good: He hath Ma­gazines of Vengeance, Store-houses of Curses, and can ruin a sinful Creature a Thousand ways; and yet how Merry not­withstanding all this is the Drunkard over his Cups, and how boldly doth the Swearer send up his dreadful Oaths to Hea­ven, and all this because God is merciful, and long suffering. But O let them know, what a terrible abuse it is, to let God's Mercy provoke them to Wantonness, and his Patience to cause Sin to live in their Souls; that his Goodness should tempt them to be foolish, and his Compassion tempt them to affront his Glory, that his kindness should prove their Bane, and that the Meat he gives them should increase their Corruption, that his Corn and Wine, should be turn'd into Contempt of his Majesty, and that they should make use of the Ease he gives them to fight against his Laws, that the Plen­ty they enjoy by his Providence, should Encourage them to make War with him, from whence all their Plenty flows: O! What monstrous Abuses are here; if their Children should serve them so, what Plagues would they think too big for them? Or ask them if their fellow Servants should recompence their kindnesses thus, would they not hate the very sight of them; and yet must God put up Affronts which they will not? Must he be contented under Scorns and Abuses which they will not take? Bid them consider how he waits for their Repentance, and perswades them to it; Turn ye, turn ye, saith the Lord your God, why will ye dye? And yet they [Page 8] frustrate his Clemency; he is patient, and would have them prevent the blow, and yet they are ready to pluck it down on their own Heads. O ask them how they dare turn Grace into Wantonness, and yet expect to be Applaud­ed at last, with a well done thou Good and Faithful Servant: Have they not heard of that unprofitable Servant, that was delivered to the Tormentors, till he should pay even the uttermost Farthing; and is not this their Case, who make light of God's Anger, because he doth not pour it out up­on them so soon as their Sins deserve? To such the Apostle speaks thus, Rom. 2. 1. Therefore art thou inexcusable O Man whosoever thou art, that despisest the Richness of his Goodness, and forbearance and long suffering, not knowing that the Good­ness of God leads to Repentance. Therefore my beloved Brethren be ye Stedfast, Ʋnmoveable, always abounding in the Work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your Labour is not in vain in the Lord, 1 Cor. 15. 58.

I shall Conclude all with the Words of St. Chrysostome, To know the Art of Almes, is Greater than to be Crowned with the Diadem of Kings; and yet to Convert one Soul, is greater than to pour out ten thousand Talents into the Basket of the Poor.

FINIS.

LONDON, Printed for Dan. Brown, at the Black Swan and Bible with­out Temple-Bar. 1688.

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