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AUG 24 18.7
PITTSBURGH, March, 1832. Messrs. Luke Loomis & Co.
GENTLEMEN,—In reply to your inquiries with respect to the propriety of republishing the justly celebrated work of Ambrose, entitled LOOKING UNTO JESUS, I would unhesitatingly express the belief that you can hardly expect, in the way of reviving old standard works, to subserve the cause of true religion better than by tulfilling such a purpose. To the picty and attaininents of Isaac AMBROSE, there are full and satisfactory attestations.
The testimony of the Editors of the New Edinburgh Encyclopædia, on all subjects of general literature, is, in worth and judiciousness, surpassed by no other, and I transcribe their brief account of him, both because it gives his reputation as an author and a scholar, and also notices the principal facts in his history. ' " He was,” they say, " a Presbyterian Clergyman of great learning and piety, born in 1591, but his parentage unknown. He appears, however, to have been liberally educated; and is said by his biographers to have studied the classics and belle lettres with much attention. He was thoroughly skilled in every branch of theology, and was particularly acquainted with Jewish antiquities and the writings of the Fathers. During the long Parliament of Cromwell he was settled at Preston, in Lancashire, and thence removed to Gar. strang; and at length ejected by the act of uniformity in 1662. He employed the remainder of his life in revising his former publications, and composing new tracts. He was one of those divines who resisted the Antinomian errors which were so prevalent in his time; who taught the necessity of an inward as well as an imputed righte. ousness; and who illustrated the faith of the gospel as a practical and purifying principle. He is described by Calamy as a man of substantial worth, eminent piety, and exemplary life: and the same author relates of him, that it was his usual custom, once a year, for the space of a month, to retire into a little hut in a wood, and, avoiding all human intercourse, to devote himself to contemplation. He died in 1664, at the age of 72. His works are, 1. The first, middle, and last things, viz. Regeneration, Sanctifi. cation, and Meditations on Life, Death, Judgment, &c. 2. Looking unto Jesus. 3. War with Devils, and Ministration of Angels. 4. Sermon on redeeming Time." (See Calamy's Lives, vol. 2.)
Whether we consider the subject on which he dwells, or the solemn and interesting circumstances, which led to its composition, this work, may justly be viewed as the most useful and valuable of the four.
It was, as we learn from the introductory address, when this excellent man had just risen from the bed of severe illness, and when a lively sense of what “ Jesus had done for his own soul,” was vividly impressed upon his mind, and intensely engaged his aifections, that he formed the design of unfolding, more fully, both for his own edification, and that of others, and for the glory of Christ, the great gospel duty of Looking unto Jesus: and he then resolved, that if his health should be restored, and his life prolonged, he would dedicate the first, and best hours, of renewed strength, to this delightful theme. He began the work with fervent prayer to God, for aid and guidance in it; and under a very deep, and heavenly impression of divine things, (as there is internal evidence,) he has here presented to us, the character and offices of Christ, “ from first to last,” as our propitiatory sacrifice, and pattern, in a most practical, tender, and luminous There is a glow of sacred feeling, in these discussions, which, united as it is with ac. curate and judicious representations of revealed truth, cannot ail to arouse, and enlight. en, and invigorate the piety, even of the inost established believers. On a subject wlich has long been the delightful theme of private meditation and public discussion, and which has employed the resources of the ablest minds and the purest hearts on earth, the reader should not, indeed, look for novelties of doctrine, or originality of thought, and manuer, or for such force and embellishment of language, as is in vain scughi or, in those ancient worthies who paid far more attention to things than names, and to the ex. cellencies of truth than the beautics of language; but he should expect, what he will rarely find, to an equal extent, in mere hurnan compositions, a richness of thought, and appropriateness of illustration; a fervor of devotion, and an unction of the Spirit, in the exposition oi the precious truths of the gospel, which, while it extends the limits of his knowledge of Christ, and inspires him with a sense of the beauty and sweetness of the blessed gospel, will lift his own heart in all the desires of a heavenly commu. nion, to Him, who is exalted to grant repentance and remission of sins. As a com. mon practical work, the best days of English Theology and piety have furnished few better. Baxter, Howe, the lenrys, Flavel, and Bates, to mention no others, are writers whose worth is generally known in this country, and it is no mean praise to say, of Ambrose, that he was associated with such men, as well by the excellence of his spirit, and judiciousness of his writings, as he was in the deprivations for non-conformity, which were then suffered. It has fallen to my lot to know, that this work of Ambrose has often been sought for, both by clergymen and others, and that when copies of it have been imported into this country, they have rapidly sold off, at very advanced prices. Should you be able to bring it into the limits which you contemplate, and sell it at the price you propose, it will be decidedly a cheap book. In attempting to do this, I have little doubt that you will receive from the Christian public, every desirable encourage. ment. Respectfuly, yours,
E. P. SWIFT, Pastor of the 2d Presbyterian
We agree with the foregoing recommendation.
R. BRUCE, Pastor, Associate Presbyterian Con.
gregation, Pittsburgh. JOHN BLACK, Pastor, Reformed Presbyterian
TO THE READER.
AMONGST all the duties I formerly mentioned, I omitted one, that now I look upon as chief and choice of all the rest; this is the duty I call Looking unto Jesus, and if I must discover the occasion of my falling on it, I shall do it truly and plainly, and in the simplicity of the gospel. As thus, in the Spring 1653, I was visited with a sore sickness, and as the Lord began to restore my health, it came into iny thoughts what Jesus had done for my soul, and what he was doing, and what he would do for it, till he saved to the uttermost. In my conceptions of these things, I could find no beginning of his actings, but in that eternity before the world was made: nor could I find any end of his actings, but in that eternity after the world should be unmade: only between these two extremities, I apprehended various trans. actions of Jesus Christ, both past, present, and to come. In the multitude of these thoughts within me, my soul delighted itself, and that delight stirring up in me other affections, (for one affection cannot be alone,) I began to consider of those texts in scripture, which seemed at first to impose the working of my affections on 80 blessed an object, as a gospel-duty: then I resolved, if the Lord Jesus would but restore my health, and prolong my life, I would endeavor to discover niore of this gospel-duty than ever yet I knew: and that my pains therein might not hinder my other necessary labors, my purpose was to fall on this subject in my ordinary preach. ing, wherein I might have occasion both to search into scriptures, several authors, and my own heart. In process of time, I began this work, beyging of God, that he would help me to finishı, as he inclined me to begin, and that all might tend to bis glory, and the church's good. In the progress of my labors, I found a world of spiritual comfort, both in respect of the object that I handled, Jesus Christ, and in respect of the act, wherein consisted my duty to him, in looking unto Jesus. 1. For the object, it was the very subject whereon more especially I was bound to preach, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” (snith Paul to the Colossians,) and he im. mediately adds," whom we preach,” Col. 1:27,29. And “ unto me who am less than the least of all the saints, is this grace given," what grace! " That I should preach among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,” Erh. 3:8. Ministers ought in duty more abundantly to preach Jesus Christ. Dr. Sibbs is clear, “ That the special office of the ministry of Christ, is to lay open Christ, to hold up the tapestry, and to unfold the hidden mysteries of Christ." And therefore he exhorts, we should labor to be always speaking somewhat about Christ, or tending that way; when we speak of the law, let it drive us to Christ; when of moral duties, let them teach us to walk worthy of Christ : Christ, or somewhat tending to Christo should be our theme and mark to aim at," Sibb's Cantic. p. 423. And I may feeiingly say, it is the sweetest subject that ever was preached or. Is it not « as an ointment poured fortiu," whose sinell is so fragrant, and whose savor is so sweets that " therefore all the virgins love him?" Is it not comprehensive of all glory, beauty, excellency, whether of things in heaven or of things on carth? Is it nol a mystery, sweet and deep? Surely volumes are written of Jesus Christ: there is line upon line, sermon upon sermon, book upon book, and tome upon toine, and yet such is the mystery, (as one speaks plainly) that we are all but, as yet, at the first • side of the single Catechism of Jesus Christ: yea, Solomon, was but at What is his name? And I fear many of us know neither name nor thing. It is a worthy study to make farther und farther discovery of this blessed mystery; and it were to be wished that all the ininisters of Christ would spend theinselves in the spelling, and reading, and understanding of it. Look as some great point doth require the abil. ities of many scholars (and all little enough when joined together) to make a good discovery thereof: such is this high point, this holy, sacred, glorious mystery, worthy of the pains of all the learned; and if they would all bring their notes together, and add all their studies together, (which I have in sorne ineasure endeavored in the following treatise) they should find still but a little of this mystery known, in comparison of what remains, and is unknown; only this they should know, Quod difficili intellectua, dilectabile inquisitu, as Bernard said) "That which is hard to unde stand, is delightful to he dived into," and so I found it. 2. For the act of looking into Jesus, as it is comprehensive of knowing, desiring, hoping, believing. loving, so also of joving; how then should I but be filled with joy unspeakable and glorious, whilst I was studying, writing, and especially acting my soul in the ex
ercise of this looking? If there be any duty on earth, resembling the duty of the saints in heaven, I dare say, this is it
. Mr. Rutherford in his epistle to Christ dying, writeth thus, “ An act of living in Christ, and on Christ, in the acts of seeing, enjoying, embracing, loving, resting on him, is that noon-day divinity, and theology of beatifical vision; there is a General Assembly of immediately illuminated divines round about the throne, who study, lecture, preach, praise Christ night and day; oh! what rays, what irradiations and durtings of intellectual fruition, be. holding, enjoying, living in him, and fervor of loving cone from that face, that God-visage of the Lord God Almighty, and of the Lainb that is in the midst of them? And, oh! what reflections and reaching forth of intellectual vision, embra. cing, loving, wondering, are returning back to him again, in a circle of glory?" Now, if this be the saints' duty, who are perfect in glory, do not
we imitate them, and feel something of heaven in our imitation, in our looking also unto Je. sus? I write what in some measure I have felt, and of which I hope to feel yet more: and therefore, whoever thou art that readest, I beseech thee, come, warm thy heart at this blessed fire! 0! come, " and smell the precious ointments of Jesus Christ!" O! come, “and sit under his shadow with great delight!" oh! that all men, (especially into whose hands this book shall come, would presently fall upon the practice of this gospel art of " looking unto Jesus!" if herein they find nothing of heaven, my skill will fail mc; only let them pray, that as they look to him, so virtue may go out of him, and fill their souls,
Reader, one thing more I have to say to thee, if thou wouldst know how to car. ry on this duty constantly, as thou dost thy morning and evening prayer: it were. not amiss every day, either morning or evening, thou wouldst take some part of it at one time, and sonie part of it at another time, at least for some space of time together. I know some, that in a constant daily course carry on in secret those two necessary duties of meditation and prayer: what the subject-matter of their meditation is, I am not very certain: only our experience can tell us, that be it heaven, or be it hell, be it sin, or be it grace, or be it what it will, if we be in the exercise of the self-same subject, either constantly or frequently, we are apt to grow remiss, or cold, or forinal; and the reason is, one thing tires quickly, un. less that one be all; now that is Christ, for “ he is all,” Col. 3:11. If then but once a day thou wouldst make this Jesus Christ, thy subject to “ know, consider, desire, hope, believe, joy in, call upon, and conform unto,” in his several respects of plotting, promising, performing thy redeinption in his birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, session, intercession, and coming again; and that one of these par. ticulars might be thy one day's exercise, and so every day thou wouldst proceed from first to last, in thus “ looking into Jesus,” I suppose thou wouldst never tire thyself: And, why so? O! there is a varicty in this matter to be looked unto, and there is a variety in the manner of looking on it.
One day thou mightest act thy " knowing of Jesus,” in carrying on the great work of thy salvation in his eternity, the next day thou mightest consider Jesus in that respect; and the next day thou mightest "desire after Jesus” in that respect, and the next day thou mightest “ hope in Jesus" in that respect; and so on till thou comest to the last day of the work, which (beside * the object handled at large in every period, in these very actings upon the object) would in all amount to the number of eighty one days. Now, would not this variety delight? It is the observation of Mr. Lockyer on Col. 1:16. that “an holy soul cannot tire itself in the contemplation bi' Jesus." Ilow much less can it tire itself in “ looking unto Jesus,” which is far more comprehensive than contemplating of Jesus? Come, try this duty, and be constant in it, at least for eighty-one days in a year, and so for eighty-one days in every year during thy life: and then, for thy meditations on any other subject I shall no! take thee quite off, but leave the remainder of the year, which is above three parts more, to thy own choice. If thou art so resolved I shall say no more, but, the Lord be with thee; and if sooner or later, thou findest any benefit by this work, give God the glory, and remember him in thy prayers, who hath taken this pains for Christ's honor, and thy soul's good. So rests,
Thy servant in Christ Jesus,
* I suppose the reader will, at least read over the whole book; and then, for his constant daily exercise, during eighty.one days in a year, I leave the object in every period to be read, or not read, as he pleaseth; unless it may in whole, or in part, conduce any thing to that one act of "knowing Jesus,", in such or such a respuct. .