by Richard Alleine
This text has been initially updated from EEBO-TCP by Project Puritas (Logan West, with David Jonescue and Alex Sarrouf.) www.puritansearch.org. Further revision and editing done by Monergism. Copyright Monergism via universal text usage permission from the above.
A Rebuke to Backsliders, and A Spur for Loiterers. In several Sermons, lately preached to a Private Congregation, and now published for The Awakening a Sleepy Age.
If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. - Heb. 10.38.
THE Case of the Churches of Christ among us is so deplorable, our spiritual distempers so many and so dangerous, and our decays and languishing's under them so visible, that he hath a blind eye that sees it not, and an hard heart who bleeds not under it. Surely in such a time, the Servants of the Lord should not keep silence; but Oh how insufficient am I, to speak as I ought to speak, in so great a case? Some thoughts I had in mine heart to make an attempt, but being discouraged by the sense of my many infirmities, which have of late exceedingly grown upon me, I laid aside all such thoughts, and only prepared the ensuing Meditations for a Private Congregation, resolving against all further publication of them then from the Pulpit. But when I had gone through what I intended, I was set upon by many of my hearers, from whose importunities (seconded by a worthy Minister) I could have no rest, for divers months together, till I had yielded to publish what now comes to thy hands.
Perhaps thou wilt blame me for making this adventure, and so should I myself, were I not persuaded that there was a special hand of God in it, leading me on beyond and against my first intentions.
Thou wilt find this Discourse indigested, but yet 'tis serious; and though it hath not in it to please thy Fancy, yet mayst thou find that which may prick thee to the heart, which will be far better. Let not the composure of it offend thee, I am in so great earnest, the matter in hand so important, our people's necessity so urgent, that thou must abate me conciseness or curiosity. If thou shouldest be nauseated at my frequent inculcations of the same duties, my frequent instancing the same sins and corruptions, my frequent putting the same or the like Interrogatories in divers parts of it, and shouldest censure me for using more words then needs, let me tell thee;
1. That I know what narrow mouthed bottles many of those were I had to deal withal, which would receive but drop by drop, now a little and then a little, and so had need the oftener pouring in, though of the same liquor. I know what hard and knotty pieces some of them were, into whom I was fastening my nails, and must therefore the oftener use the hammer to drive them home; many knocks at the same nail may do, when one or two will not. I know what forgetful hearers too many of them were, and therefore thought it requisite to set the same Glass again and again before them, lest they should soon forget what form they were of. I was desirous that my hearers should carry upon their hearts an express sense of my designs, all along from first to last, and therefore have put them the oftener in remembrance of it.
2. I am persuaded that some of my Readers may have the same need that my hearers had, and am therefore willing to let it go as it is.
Some imperfections there are, which (I freely confess) I would have helped if I could, but I cannot do as I would, nor perhaps now as once I could. Whatever this little work be, I do in all humility of soul offer it up to the Lord, in hope that he will graciously accept it, and make use of it for some service to his Name and People, warning thee in his Name (especially if thou be one who art more particularly concerned in it, either as a Backslider or as a Loiterer) so to read, as first to take knowledge of thyself, and the case thou art in, and then to take heed to thyself, that thou make not light of thy disease nor thy remedy, but carefully apply and improve the counsels and reproofs which are brought unto thee, even to thee, from the Lord, by the hand of his unworthy Servant, and
Thy Servant for Jesus sake, R. A.
Table of Contents
To the Reader
I. The Opening of the Text.
II. What need there is of stirring up ourselves to, and in Religion?
III. What it is to take hold of God
IV. Stirring Religion will take hold of God
V. How we should stir up ourselves