Dear Friend! – Solomon bids us buy the truth (Prov. xxiii. 23), but doth not tell us what it must cost, because we must get it though it be never so dear. We must love it both shining and scorching. Every parcel of truth is precious, as the filings of gold; we must either live with it, or die for it. As Ruth said to Naomi, ‘Whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge, and nothing but death shall part thee and me,’ Ruth i. 16, 17; so must gracious spirits say, Where truth goes I will go, and where truth lodges I will lodge, and nothing but death shall part me and truth. A man may lawfully sell his house, land, and jewels, but truth is a jewel that exceeds all price, and must not be sold; it is our heritage: ‘Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever,’ Ps. cxix. 111. It is a legacy that our forefathers have bought with their bloods, which should make us willing to lay down anything, and to lay out anything, that we may, with the wise merchant in the Gospel (Mat. xiii. 45), purchase this precious pearl, which is more worth than heaven and earth, and which will make a man live happily, die comfortably, and reign eternally.
And now, if thou pleasest, […] receive this counsel from me.
First, Thou must know that every man cannot be excellent, that yet may be useful. An iron key may unlock the door of a golden treasure, yea (ferrum potest quod aurum non potest), iron can do some things that gold cannot, &c.
Secondly, Remember, it is not hasty reading, but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the bee’s touching of the flower that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon the flower that draws out the sweet. It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest, and strongest Christian, &c.
Thirdly, Know that it is not the knowing, nor the talking, nor the reading man, but the doing man, that at last will be found the happiest man. “If you know these things, blessed and happy are you if you do them.” “Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doth the will of my Father that is in heaven,” John xvi. 14, Mat. vii. 21. Judas called Christ Lord, Lord, and yet betrayed him, and is gone to his place. Ah! how many Judases have we in these days, that kiss Christ, and yet betray Christ; that in their words profess him, but in their works deny him; that bow their knee to him, and yet in their hearts despise him; that call him Jesus, and yet will not obey him for their Lord.
Reader, If it be not strong upon thy heart to practise what thou readest, to what end dost thou read? To increase thy own condemnation? If thy light and knowledge be not turned into practice, the more knowing man thou art, the more miserable man thou wilt be in the day of recompense; thy light and knowledge will more torment thee than all the devils in hell. Thy knowledge will be that rod that will eternally lash thee, and that scorpion that will for ever bite thee, and that worm that will everlastingly gnaw thee; therefore read, and labour to know, that thou mayest do, or else thou art undone for ever. When Demosthenes was asked, what was the first part of an orator, what the second, what the third? he answered, Action; the same may I say. If any should ask me, what is the first, the second, the third part of a Christian? I must answer, Action; as that man that reads that he may know, and that labours to know that he may do, will have two heavens – a heaven of joy, peace, and comfort on earth, and a heaven of glory and happiness after death.