William Bradford Institute
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Early Settlement of America

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The Legacies of Thomas Brooks


[Excerpted from his Farewell Sermon at the Great Ejection.]

I shall proceed, as I said, and leave some legacies with you, which may, by the
finger of the Spirit, be made advantageous to you, to whom am not advantaged to
speak in person.

Legacy 1.

The first legacy I would leave with you, shall be this: Secure your interest in
Christ; make it your great business, your work, your heaven, to secure your
interest in Christ. This is not an age, an hour, for a man to be between fears
and hopes, between doubting and believing.

Take not up in a name to live, when you are dead God-ward and Christ-ward; take
not up in an outward form, and outward privilege. They cried out, 'The temple of
the Lord, the temple of the Lord,' that had no interest in, or love for, the
Lord of the temple. Follow God leave no means unattempted whereby your blessed
interest may be cleared up.

Legacy 2.

Make Christ and Scripture the only foundation for your souls and faith to build
on: as the apostle saith, 1 Cor. iii. 11, 'Other foundations can no man lay than
that which is laid, even Jesus Christ.' Isa. xxviii. 6, 'Behold, I lay in Zion
for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a corner stone, a precious stone, a
sure foundation,' Eph. ii. 10. Since it is a very dangerous thing, as much as
your souls and eternity is worth, for you to build on anything beside Jesus
Christ, many will say, Come, build on this authority and that, on this saying
and that; but take heed.

Legacy 3.

In all places and company, be sure to carry your soul preservative with you: go
into no place or company, except you carry your soul preservatives with you,
that is, a holy care and wisdom. You know, in infectious times, men will carry
outward preservatives with them; you had need to carry your preservatives about
you, else you will be in danger of being infected with the ill customs and
vanities of the times wherein you live, and that is a third. [In the 17th C it
was thought that bad air caused many diseases. People would therefore carry bags
of herbs about with them to "preserve" the air.]

Legacy 4.

I would leave this with you: Look that all within you rises higher and higher,
by oppositions, threatenings and sufferings, that is, that your faith, your
love, your courage, your zeal, your resolutions, and magnanimity rises higher by
opposition and a spirit of prayer. Thus it did, Acts iv. 18-21, 29-31 compared;
all their sufferings did but raise up a more noble spirit in them, they did but
raise up their faith and courage. So Acts v. 40-42, they looked on it as a grace
to be disgraced for Christ, and as an honour to be dishonoured for him. They
say, as David, 'If this be to be vile, I will be more vile.' If to be found in
the way of my God, to act for my God, to be vile, I will be more vile.

Legacy 5.

Take more pains, and make more conscience of keeping yourselves from sin than
suffering; from the pollutions and defilements of the day, than from the
sufferings of the day. This legacy I would beg that you would consider; take
more pains, and make more conscience of keeping yourselves from the evil of sin
than the evil of punishment, from the pollutions and corruptions of the times
than the sufferings of the times: Acts ii. 40, 'Save yourselves from this
untoward generation.' Philip. ii. l5, 'The children of God must be harmless and
blameless, without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.'
Heb. xi. speaks full to the point in hand. Rev. iii. 4, 'Thou hast a few names
even in Sardis that have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me
in white: for they are worthy.' White was the habit of nobles, which imports the
honour that God will put on those that keep their garments pure in a defiling
day. Rev. xviii. 4, 'And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of
her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of
her plagues.' If you will be tasting and sipping at Babylon's cup, you must
resolve to receive more or less of Babylon's plagues.

Legacy 6.

I would leave this with you: Be always doing or receiving good. Our Lord and
Master went up and down in this world doing good; he was still doing good to
body and soul; he was motivated by an untired power. Be still doing or receiving
good. This will make your lives comfortable, your deaths happy, and your account
glorious, in the great day of our Lord. Oh! how useless are many men in their
generation! Oh! that our lips might be as so many honey-combs, that we might
scatter knowledge!

Legacy 7.

I would leave this with you: Set the highest examples and patterns before your
face of grace and godliness for your imitation. In the business of faith, set an
Abraham before your eyes; in the business of courage, set a Joshua; in the
business of uprightness, set a Job; of meekness, a Moses &c. Christians
disadvantage themselves by looking more backwards than forwards. Men look on
whom they excel, not on those they fall short of. Of all examples, set them
before you that are most eminent for grace and holiness, for communion with God,
and acting for God. Next to Christ, set the pattern of the choicest saints
before you.

Legacy 8.

Hold fast your integrity, and rather let all go than let that go. A man had
better let liberty, estate, relations, and life go, than let his integrity go.
Yea, let ordinances themselves go, when they cannot be held with the hand of
integrity: Job xxvii. 5, 6, 'God forbid that I should justify you till I die. I
will not remove my integrity from me; my righteousness I will hold fast, and I
will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.' Look, as
the drowning man holds fast that which is cast forth for to save him, as the
soldier holds fast his sword and buckler on which his life depends, so, saith
Job, 'I will hold fast my integrity; my heart shall not reproach me. I had
rather all the world should reproach me, and my heart justify me, than that my
heart should reproach me, and all the world justify me.' That man will make but
a sad exchange that shall exchange his integrity for any worldly concernment.
Integrity maintained in the soul will be a feast of fat things in the worst of
days; but let a man lose his integrity. and it is not in the power of all the
world to make a feast of fat things in that soul.

Legacy 9.

That I would leave this with you: Let not a day pass over your head without
calling the whole man to an exact account. Well, where have you been acting
to-day? Hands, what have you done for God to-day? Tongue, what have you spoken
for God to-day? This will be an advantage many ways unto you, but I can only
touch on these legacies.

Legacy 10.

Labour mightily for a healing spirit. This legacy I would leave with you as a
matter of great concernment. To repeat: Labour mightily for a healing spirit.
Away with all discriminating names whatever that may hinder the applying of balm
to heal your wounds. Labour for a healing spirit. Discord and division become no
Christian. For wolves to worry the lambs, is no wonder; but for one lamb to
worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous. God hath made his wrath to smoke
against us for the divisions and heart-burnings that have been amongst us.
Labour for a oneness in love and affection with every one that is one with
Christ. Let their forms be what they will, that which wins most upon Christ's
heart, should win most upon ours, and that is his own grace and holiness. The
question should be, What of the Father, what of the Son, what of the Spirit
shines in this or that person? and accordingly let your love and your affections
run out. That is the tenth legacy.

Legacy 11.

Be most in the spiritual exercises of religion. Improve this legacy, for much of
the life and comfort, joy and peace of your souls is wrapped up in it. I say, be
most in the spiritual exercises of religion. There are external exercises, as
hearing, preaching, praying, and conference; and there are the more spiritual
exercises of religion, exercise of grace, meditation, self-judging, self-trial,
and examination. Bodily exercise will profit nothing if abstracted from those
more spiritual. The glory that God hath, and the comfort and advantage that will
accrue to your souls is mostly from the spiritual exercises of religion. How
rare is it to find men in the work of meditation, of trial and examination, and
of bringing home of truths to their own souls?

Legacy 12.

Take no truths upon trust, but all upon trial, 1 Thes. v. 21, also 1 John iv. 1,
Acts xvii. 11. It was the glory of that church, that they would not trust Paul
himself; Paul, that had the advantage above all for external qualifications; no,
not Paul himself. Take no truth upon trust; bring them to the balance of the
sanctuary. If they will not hold weight there, reject them.

Legacy 13. The lesser and fewer opportunities and advantages you have in public
to better and enrich your souls, the more abundantly address your souls to God
in private: Mal. iii. 16, 17, 'Then they that feared the Lord, spake often one
to another, &c.

Legacy 14.

Walk in those ways that are directly cross and contrary to the vain, sinful, and
superstitious ways that men of a formal, carnal, lukewarm spirit walk in; this
is the great concernment of Christians. But more of that by and by.

Legacy 15.

Look upon all the things of this world as you will look upon them when you come
to die. At what a poor rate do men look on the things of this world when they
come to die! What a low value do men set upon the pomp and glory of it, when
there is but a step between them and eternity! Men may now put a mask upon them,
but then they will appear in their own colours. Men would not venture the loss
of such great things for them did they but look on them now, as they will do at
the last day.

Legacy 16.

Never put off your conscience with any plea or with any argument that you dare
not stand by in the great day of your account. It is dreadful to consider how
many in these days put off their consciences. We did this and that for our
families, else they would have perished. I have complied thus, and wronged my
conscience thus, for this and that concernment. Will a man stand by this
argument when he comes before Jesus Christ at the last day? Because of the souls
of men, many plead this or that. Christ doth not stand in need of indirect ways
to save souls; he hath ways enough to bring in souls to himself.

Legacy 17.

Eye more, mind more, and lay to heart more, the spiritual and eternal workings
of God in your souls, than the external providences of God in the world.
Beloved, God looks that we should consider the operations of his hand; and
despising the works of his hands is so provoking to him that he threatens to
lead them into captivity for not considering them. But above all look to the
work that God is carrying on in your souls. Not a soul but he is carrying on
some work or other in it, either blinding or enlightening, bettering or
worsening; therefore look to what God is doing in thy soul. All the motions of
God within you are steps to eternity, and every soul shall be blessed or cursed,
saved or lost to all eternity, not according to outward dispensations, but
according to the inward operations of God in your souls. Observe what humbling
work, reforming work, sanctifying work, he is about in thy spirit; what he is
doing in that little world within thee. If God should carry on never so glorious
a work in the world, as a conquest of the nations to Christ, what would it
advantage thee if sin, Satan, and the world should triumph in thy soul, and
carry the day there?

Legacy 18.

Look as well on the bright side as on the dark side of the cloud; on the bright
side of providence as well as on the dark side of providence. Beloved, there is
a great weakness amongst Christians; they do so dwell on the dark side of the
providence that they have no heart to consider the bright side. If you look on
the dark side of the providence of God to Joseph, how terrible and amazing was
it! But if you look on the bright side, his fourscore years' reign, how glorious
was it! If you look on the dark side of the providence of God to David in his
five years' banishment, much will arise to startle you; but if you turn to the
bright side, his forty years' reign in glory, how amiable was it! Look on the
dark side of the providence of God to Job, oh, how terrible was it in the first
of Job! but compare this with the last of Job, where you have the bright side of
the cloud, and there God doubles all his mercies to him. Consider the patience
of Job, and the end that the Lord made with him. Do not remember the beginning
only, for that was the dark side; but turn to the end of him, and there was his
bright side. Many sins, many temptations, and much affliction would be prevented
by Christians looking on the bright side of providence as well as on the dark.

Legacy 19.

Keep up precious thoughts of God under the sourest, sharpest, and severest
dispensations of God to you: Ps. xxii. 1-3, 'My God, my God, why hast thou
forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my
roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime but thou hearest not; and in the night
season, and am not silent.' There was the psalmist under smart dispensations,
but what precious thoughts had he of God after all: 'But thou art holy, O thou
that inhabitest the praises of Israel: though I am thus and thus afflicted, yet
thou art holy;' Ps. lxv. 5, 'By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou
answer us, O God of our salvation.

Legacy 20.

Hold on and hold out in the ways of well-doing, in the want of out outward
encouragements, and in the face of all outward discouragements. It is nothing to
hold out when we meet with nothing but encouragements; but to hold out in the
face of all discouragements is a Christian duty: Ps. xliv., 'Though thou hast
sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death,
yet have we not dealt falsely in thy covenant: our heart is not turned back,
neither have we declined from thy way.'It is perseverance that crowns all; 'Be
thou faithful to the death, and I will give thee a crown of life,' Rev. ii. 10;
'And he that endureth to the end shall be saved,' Mat. xxiv. It is perseverance
in well-doing that crowns all our actions. If you have begun in the Spirit,
don't end in the flesh; do not go away from the Captain of your salvation;
follow the Lamb, though others follow the beast and the false prophets.

Legacy 21.

In all your natural, civil, and religious actions, let divine glory still rest
on your souls, Rom. xiv. 7, 8, 1 Cor. x. 31. In all your bearings, in all your
prayings, let the glory of Christ carry it; in all your closet duties, let the
glory of Christ lie nearest your hearts.

Legacy 22.

Record all special favours, mercies, providences, and experiences. It is true, a
man should do nothing else, should he record all the favours and experiences of
God towards him; and therefore my legacy is, record all special favours,
peculiar experiences. Little do you know the advantage that will increase to
your soul upon this account by recording all the experiences of the shinings of
his face, of the leadings of his Spirit. Many a Christian loseth much by
neglecting this duty.

Legacy 23.

Never enter upon the trial of your estate, but when your hearts are at the best,
and in the fittest temper. It is a great design of Satan, when the soul is
deserted and strangely afflicted, to put the soul on trying work. Come, see what
thou art worth for another world, what thou hast to shew for a better state, for
an interest in Christ, a title for heaven. This is not a time to be about this
work. Thy work is now to get off from this temptation, and therefore to pray and
believe, and wait upon God, and to be found in all those ways whereby you may
get off the temptation.

Legacy 24.

Always make the Scripture, and not yourselves, nor your carnal reason, nor your
bare opinion, the judges of your spiritual state and condition. I cannot see my
condition to be good. I cannot perceive it. What! must your sense and your
carnal reason be the judge of your spiritual state? Isa. viii. 20, 'To the law
and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this rule, it is because
there is no light, no morning in them,' John xii. 48, 'The word that I have
spoken, the same shall judge you in the last day.' The Scripture is that which
must determine the case in the great day, whether you have grace or no, or
whether it be true or no.

Legacy 25.

Make much conscience of making good the terms on which you closed with Christ.
You know the terms, how that you would deny yourselves, take up his cross, and
follow the Lamb wheresoever he should go. Now you are put to take up the cross,
to deny yourselves, to follow the Lamb over hedge and ditch, through thick and
thin. Do not turn your backs on Christ; the worst of Christ is better than the
best of the world. Make conscience of making good your terms, to deny yourself,
your natural self, your sinful self, your religious self, to follow him; and if
you do so, oh! what an honour will it be to Christ, and advantage to your souls,
and a joy to the upright!

Legacy 26.

Walk by no rule but such as you dare die by and stand by in the great day of
Jesus Christ. You may have many ways prescribed to worship by; but walk by none
but such as you dare die by, and stand by, before Jesus Christ. Walk not by a
multitude, for who dares stand by that rule when he comes to die?

Make not the example of great men a rule to go by, for who dares die by and
stand by this in the great day of account? Do not make any authority that stands
in opposition to the authority of Christ a rule to walk by, for who dares stand
by this before Jesus Christ? Ah! sirs, walk by no rule but what you dare die by,
and stand by at the great day.

Legacy 27.

And lastly, sit down and rejoice with fear: Ps. ii., 'Let the righteous rejoice,
but let them rejoice with fear.' Rejoice, that God hath done your souls good by
the everlasting gospel; that he did not leave you till he brought you to an
acceptance of, to a closing with, and a resignation of, your souls to Christ,
and the clearing up of your interest in him. Rejoice, that you have had the
everlasting gospel! in so much light, purity, power, and glory, as you have had
for many years together. Rejoice in the riches of grace that hath carried it in
such a way towards you. And weep, that you have provoked God to take away the
gospel, that you have no more improved it; that you have so neglected the
seasons and opportunities of enriching your souls. When you should have come to
church-fellowship, anything would turn you out of the way. Oh! sit down and
tremble under your barrenness, under all your leanness. Notwithstanding all the
cost and charge that God hath been at, that you have grown no more into
communion with God, and conformity to God, and into the lively hope of the
everlasting fruition of God. Here are your legacies, and the Lord make them to
work in your souls, and then they will be of singular use to you, to preserve
you so that you may give up your account before the great and glorious God with
joy. Labour to make conscience of putting these legacies into practice, of
sucking at these breasts, which will be of use to us, till we shall be gathered
up into the fruition of God, where we shall need no more ordinances, no more
preaching or praying.

 

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