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THE REVEREND THOMAS BROOKS, the author of the following treatise, was a minister in London about the year 1650. He was ejected, like many other devoted men, because the world and the powers which were then ascendant felt that either such preachers must be silenced and put down, or the truth of God, which they so powerfully applied to the conscience, would compel men to forsake the paths which they loved, and walk in those which the ungodly have always disliked. Brooks was at one time minister of the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle; at another, of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene; and in some of his works he. štyles himself, “ Late Preacher of the Word at St. Margaret's.” He died in the year 1680, and besides the work which is here reprinted, he was the author of “ A Farewell Sermon in Twenty-Seven Legacies," "Heaven upon Earth,” “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ," "The Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod," "The Ark for God's Noahs," "A Cabinet of Choice Jewels," “A
Golden Key to open Hidden Treasures,” and several other volumes.
When asked to furnish a preface for the present Reprint, the first feeling was, that surely it would be superfluous to commend the works of such a man as Brooks—one praised by Richard Baxter, and admired by thousands who love the truth the better and not the worse because it comes close up to conscience and the heart, to bring them over to the side of God. Yet, in compliance with that request, we may say that such books belong to the class which those who love the simple and unvarnished truth will not willingly let die. The style may not be all that the modern fastidiousness demands; and no one would now vouch for the soundness of this author's views upon many points of Natural History, for example, where he speaks of the swans which fly over Mount Taurus as carrying pebbles in their bill, lest they should be so scared in their flight as to scream and wake up the eagles in their eyries! But these and similar things are readily overlooked for the sake of the precious, powerful truths which abound in such a volume.
There is a rare unction, and a quaint and racy style about this old Puritan which are seldom surpassed even in the class to which he belongs. Sometimes the earnestness of Baxter, and at others, the rapt vehemence of Rutherford, meets us in these pages, and we are sure that the soul which has “tasted and seen that the Lord is gracious” will be at once gladdened and stimulated by such truths as those which occur, for example, at page 38 and page 39 of the volume. The book, as its title indicates, is meant mainly for youthful readers who are still undecided between God and the world; but such passages make it clear that the most advanced and mature among those who "follow the Lord fully" may find much to humble, yet not a little also to refresh, in the earnest and unctional words of Brooks. He faithfülly follows those whom he addresses, through all the windings and doublings of the soul which would flee from God, and points out their peril. But, on the other hand, do men listen to his counsels? Then they may delight in the abundance of peace,” in the path in which Brooks will lead them the only path of pleasantness for man.
One thing may deserve a more special notice. All the Puritans were rigid adherents to the Word of God. It was their only and exclusive guide; as the Incarnate Word was their only and exclusive foundation, so that they were both mighty in the Scriptures and strong in the Lord. Now, Brooks was signally so. For example, in commenting on the words “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,” he lays the main stress of his pungent urgency on the word now, a particle which many overlook in reading that text, but which Brooks calls "an atom which it will puzzle the wisdom of a philosopher, or the skill of an angel to divide.” Again, when explaining the words of David in Psalm v. 3, by two parenthetic clauses, Brooks illuminates the verse more than a page of exposition would have done in many other hands. His language is, “My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct (Heb. marshal) my prayer unto Thee, and will look up (Heb. look out like a watchman)." By such scintillations, if not flashes of light, this author guides us deep into the truth and the beauty of the Word, and so leads us into the secret place of strength.
We might quote many illustrative passages from the volume, were it not to be hoped that not a few will study the whole. “Many there are,” the earnest man exclaims, “many there are that are good, nay, very good, towards men, who are bad, yea, very bad towards God. Some there are who are very kind to the creature, and yet very unkind to their Creator. Many men's goodness towards the creature is like the rising sun, but their goodness towards the Lord is like a morning cloud. .." By such criticisms, and such lessons did this devout and loving man serve his God in his generation. As a result, his works are following him; and though some may prefer the more showy and the more superficial productions of more recent times, it is as true in this case as concerning wine, that "the old is better.” Over such volumes, minds of deep-toned piety will love to linger, as over the society or the memory of a friend.
We follow this volume in thought, then, to the home of some young man. He is engrossed and absorbed with the present, or he is making haste to take up his position for this life, and is tempted to forget the interests of the life that is to come. Now,