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be, the prayer and cordial wish of your highly obliged and thankful patient; who shall not cease, whatever others think or say of you, to trumpet out your deserved fame and real worth, while I enjoy the faculties of memory and speech. And, what I pray and wish God may be to you in a dying hour, the same I pray and wish he may be to your dear and religious consort, in whom you . are so greatly blessed. And, for both your sakes, to whom I own myself for ever obliged, I heartily pray that God may work out for his own, by the effectual call of his own spirit, your dear posterity; that when you are called off, and they, by providence, are called on, the stage of public service, they may be acted by the same spirit whereby ye are both acted; so as their usefulness in their day and place may render and bespeak them as serviceable and desirable as their parents : the which if God vouchsafe them, as I hope he will, they will then live truly honourable, and die lamented; as I am confident you will whenever you go hence.
My prefixing your worthy names to the ensuing treatise will, I hope, be looked on as a making amends for my great deficiency and shortness in handling so sweet and excellent a subject; especially in the esteem and judgment of those who have the same value for you both as I have. The method I have taken in owning your kindness will, I greatly hope, be no way displeasing, seeing
I know not how otherwise to do it to my own satisfaction.
I conclude this short dedication with my hearty well wishes and prayer to God for both; that the subject of the apple tree, so weakly handled in the ensuing treatise, may be, through the powerful influence of the Holy Ghost in both your souls, made as delightful to you in reading it, as it was to me in studying and preaching it; and as ravishing as it was to those at whose earnest request I have been prevailed with to publish the
Honoured Sir, and virtuous Madam,
Your ever obliged Friend,
COURTEOUS READER, When first I preached on this sweet and delightful subject, the Apple Tree, I little thought or expected to have been seen in print: so far was I, and still am, from judging myself capable of handling so mysterious and profound a subject as it really deserves to be handled.
That which induced me to a willingness to publish my thoughts and conceptions about it, I lay down in two particulars.
First, The real sweetness and soul-ravishing delight which, with the spouse, I found under the shadow of the sweet and precious Jesus, who is allegorically set forth in this metaphor; whose fruit hath often revived and exhilarated my fainting soul while I continued sitting under his divine shadow, to keep and secure me from being scorched to death by the violent heat of the tempestuous
storms which have been raised against me by the powers of darkness; and which have incessantly followed me since I was effectually called out of a state of nature, especially since I was called to the work of the ministry. The only wise God saw it good to, permit satan and his instruments, not only to commence, but even to maintain and keep up, a sharp war against me; that I might know experimentally what a shadow this apple tree affords to poor bewildered souls, and how that there is no other shadow that can secure a poor sinner but it.
Secondly, The delightful sweetness which several savoury-spirited christians declared they met with, to the joy and rejoicing of their spirits, in the handling this subject: since when I have been often and more than ordinarily importuned by several, both in city and country, to publish in print what they heard me deliver on the apple tree subject; they not doubting but that the Spirit of Christ, which made it so delightful and ravishing to themselves, would make it the same to other believers, if once printed. At their earnest request I did make a promise of publishing the same when I found myself thereunto encouraged by providence.
All the harm I wish thee, kind and charitable reader, is, that the Spirit of truth, who inspired Solomon, the penman of that glorious mystery handled in this short treatise, may graciously
vouchsafe unto thee such a measure of the anointing from above, as may render thee capable of understanding, and applying to thyself, by faith, the things held forth and contained in it, that so thou mayest experimentally come to taste and feel the sweet joy and delight wherewith the unworthy author met in studying and preaching the same; and wherewith those godly believers who heard it preached did meet, at whose importunity I have now published the same for the public good. If thou findest any comfort and soul-advantage by reading it, let it be a motive to stir thee
up join with me in, heartily requesting the more learned and experienced of the bridegroom's friends and faithful ambassadors, to supply my great deficiency and shortness in setting forth the commendation of this incomparably excellent apple tree; in whose shadow and fruit consist the very life, and the all, of all true believers, both here and hereafter. If it happen thou thinkest me too sharp and too bold in handling the Papist, the Quaker, and Arminians, &c. in this treatise, I heartily desire thee to consider but two things for preventing prejudice in thy spirit, either against the truth herein discovered, or against the instrument by whom the providence of God sees fit to make the discovery to thee.
First, the apparent disparagement which the