To the Brethren in the Ministry of Christ, of all Persuasions, even as many as have put on our Lord Jesus Christ in their Ministerial Office.

Brethren,

Grace, Mercy, and Truth be with you; even Peace from God our Father, and Jesus Christ our Lord. My heart is stirred up to write a few things to you, not as patrons of the author, but as possessors of the Truth as it is in Jesus; which truth, you are called by Him to hold forth to others. What cause have you to thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled you, for that He has counted you faithful, putting you into the ministry! Many of you who are poor and despised, yet count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations. Some few of you who are learned in part, {as to what men value in learning,} put your highest proficiency in this, that you have learned Christ; and as to any other learning too, you could never have received it, except it had been given you out of Christ’s Nature-Fulness from above. Christ is a more learned Person than ever any else hath been who hath attained unto the greatest learning upon earth; I mean he is so even in the very things men call learning; I exclude not philosophy, languages, history, antiquity, arts and sciences; for in all these respects Christ has the Pre- Eminence, though he teacheth not these things by his Spirit. You who are his ministers in better things; in the things of a Gospel Revelation; how honourable a relation do you bear to the Highest LORD and Potentate! What transcendent work and service is the service of the Gospel, in which you are called to serve the Lord! But as you are ministers of Christ, I am persuaded that you do not live without your Ministerial trials; and are not the trials of the ministry {throughout the extent of them} some of the greatest of trials? It’s a miracle of Grace that so many stand, and so few desert. As to my own part, I can remember my own Ministerial buffetings; for I have been sometimes upon the brink of laying all down, through a view of my own insufficiency in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures of Truth. Nor could I find relief {but only increased in doubts} by whole shelves of learned Annotators, or Doctors, of any denomination, though no sort of interpreters since the Reformation have escaped my view. But alas! When I had gathered up Elijah’s mantle, without the Lord God of Elijah; and when I ran before my Master with Elisha’s staff, and laid the staff upon the face of the dead child, as the prophet’s servant did upon the Shunamite’s, I found it contributed nothing to soul conversion, nor soul recovery; for under the dry staff there was neither voice nor hearing! Nevertheless, the Lord himself hath visited me in my temptations, and relieved me in my ministry. He hath carried me through and above the storms that beat upon me in my office. My ministry was to be Christ’s, and not to be my own; and therefore his Grace hath been sufficient for me. When this temptation storm concerning the sense of Scriptures had been blown over, another storm beat upon my soul; and that was still from my own further insufficiency to keep off from the latent natural Arminianism that still sprung up in my own proud, blind and conceited mind, and made all my Calvinism and Orthodoxy to be but form and notion. I seemed to lack the powerful life of that Grace to possess and fill my soul in all my sound notions thereof; and without this vital principle in Operation I found all my orthodoxy to be but a burden of dead, heavy preaching on my heart and hands. I found the occasion of this mischief to have been my following of various authors, and labouring to varnish my beliefs, where I could not support them, by human testimonies; though Christ hath expressly said, that he received not testimony from man. And I did it not as some do, who seem to believe they come off well, when they have told us, they’ll mention the testimony of two great men, suppose Dr. Ames and Dr. Owen; but I verily thought with myself I came off but poorly, if I did not thoroughly search the Fathers, such as the two Clements, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Theophilus, Irenaeus, Tatian, Maximus, Tertullian, Hippolitus, Origen, Ammonius, Minutius Foelix, Novatian, {though counted a heretic,} Gregory, Cyprian, Victorinus, Arnoblus, Iactantius, Eusebius, Athanasius, Didymus, Hilary, Titus Bostrensis, Cyril, Optatus, Ambrose, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, Jerome, Epiphanius, Ruffinus, Chrysostom, {that golden mouth charmer,} Augustine; all these on from A.D. 70 to about A.D. 400, {as we commonly reckon,} and from thence further on to the innumerable writers of 1000 years more, even down to the bottom of our school men. In this search I spent many years, still with mine eye upon the Holy Scripture, and upon what measures of Gospel light and spirituality had been dispensed forth unto any of them; thereby still to make up my reckoning in the close, and improve in my own light, from what everyone could contribute in any part of the Gospel; but alas, upon the search I have found them utterly to fail my expectation, and to deal deceitfully, in comparison of the Scriptures themselves, as Job speaks of his friends, when he compares them to the dried summer brooks that deceive the thirsty traveller. And truly brethren, I may tell you, who have tried testimonies as much as most of you, that an itch among us to bring in testimonies even of modern authors to revealed truths, especially when the testimony stops the growth of further Reformation and an increase in the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ, and advances in Spirituality, is a very pernicious practice, and for ought I see is bringing down the wrath of God upon unsanctified pens. If a man’s argument lay in human wisdom, human testimonies may be proper to adorn and strengthen it; and it may be necessary in making out the matter of fact, and often even stops the mouths of men who can talk of nothing else, except their earthly glosses upon heavenly things. But the best of human testimonies are an ill medium to testify to the truth of the Gospel, because the Gospel is all built upon Divine Revelation, and thus it needs not to receive testimony from men. But some men have little else to write upon any argument, except just what is written in their hand. It is clear to me, that the man who goes about to defend the faith of the Gospel, or refute error, by testimony from authors, would have been an active instrument, to have done as much disservice to the Lord Christ in some of the ancient councils {made up of the learned doctors of the particular age in which they met} that have been called to put truths to the vote, and enact Canons of Anathema upon all that were otherwise minded, and could not subscribe to the article, or the declaration; as the men did, who were delegated to compose such ecclesiastical synods, and sit as members in them upon church matters. As to this matter of synods, we have no evangelical history of the councils, done with Gospel remarks upon all their horrid disorder, to serve the Truth; and I am persuaded it would appear, that the original of them was not to be found in Acts 15 {from whence they are fetched} for I never knew {by what I have seen} one council in the world, sitting upon Divine Matters, like it; either as to the nature of the argument, or the importance of the conjuncture, or the authority of the persons, or the assistance of the mind.

Well, all these things {in the Lord’s providential timing} vanished, and were gone with me, when Christ clearly led me into more of the love of the Father, the knowledge of Himself and the Operations of the Spirit, in my last book. This sweetly calmed the storm of troubles raised upon my own insufficiency in the ministry, and rebuked the temptation which had staggered me from holding on my work; and Christ taught me to keep off from the natural Arminianism that runs through all our common labours, whether fitted to the eye or ear, for want of clear distinguishings. This also calmed the storm of troubles raised upon my thoughts in departing from human testimonies, and wading through difficult points, where I saw no author before me that had either waded or ferried over! The fruit of my labours in the following piece, I therefore dedicate and present to you, hoping the Lord may use it to instruct, or strengthen you in His own work; and if he does, you will bless God in Christ who hath raised a better structure in the Word of Truth, than is hereafter pulled down in human writings. Covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet show I unto you a more excellent way, which that you may obtain and receive, is the hope and prayer of, brethren, your brother in Christ, and in the Lord’s work,

Joseph Hussey



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