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To the worthy and honoured Sir William Masham, Sir William Rowe, with the rest of the gentlemen of the committee lately under imprisonment by the enemy in Colchester; as also, to the honoured Sir Henry Mildmay of Wansted, Col. Sir Thomas Honeywood, with the rest of the gentlemen and officers, lately acting and engaged against the same enemy.


The righteous judgments of God having brought a disturbance and noise of war, for our security, unthankfulness, murmuring, and devouring one another, upon our country, those who were intrusted with the power thereof turned their streams into several channels. Troublous times are times of trial.

“Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand,” Dan. xii. 10. Some God called out to suffer, some to do, — leaving “treacherous dealers to deal treacherously.”

Of the two first sorts are you. This honour have you received from God, either with patience and constancy to undergo, involuntarily a dangerous restraint; or with resolution and courage voluntarily to undertake a hazardous engagement, to give an example that faith and truth, so shamefully despised in these evil days, have not altogether forsaken the sons of men.

It is not in my thoughts to relate unto yourselves what some of you suffered, and what some of you did, — what difficulties and perplexities you wrestled withal, within and without the walls of your enemies (the birds in the cage and the field having small cause of mutual emulation); for that which remains of these things is only a returnal of praise to Him by whom all your works are wrought.

It cannot be denied but that Providence was eminently exalted in the work of your protection and delivery; yet truly, for my part, I cannot but conceive that it vails to the efficacy of grace, in preventing you from putting forth your hands unto iniquity, in any sinful compliance with the enemies of our peace. The times wherein we live have found the latter more rare than the former. What God wrought in you hath the pre-eminence of what he wrought for you; — as much as to be given up to the sword is a lesser evil than to be given up to a treacherous spirit.

What God hath done for you all, all men know; — what I desire you should do for God, I know no reason why I should make alike public, — the general and particular civilities I have received from all and every one of you advantaging me to 76make it out in another way. I shall add nothing, then, to what you will meet withal in the following discourse, but only my desire, that you would seriously ponder the second observation, with the deductions from thence. For the rest, I no way fear but that that God who hath so appeared with you, and for you, will so indulge to y spirits the presence and guidance of his grace, in these shaking times, that if any speak evil of you as of evil-doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ, and glorify God in the day of visitation.

For these following sermons, one of them was preached at your desire, and is now published upon your request. The first part of the labour I willingly and cheerfully underwent; — the latter, merely in obedience to your commands, being acted in it more by your judgments than mine own. You were persuaded (mean as it was) it might be for the glory of God to have it made public; whereupon my answer was, and is, That for that, not only it, but myself also, should, by his assistance, be ready for the press. The failings and infirmities attending the preaching and publishing of it (which the Lord knows to be very many) are mine; — the inconveniences of publishing such a tractate from so weak a hand, whereof the world is full, must be yours; — the fruit and benefit both of the one and other is His, for whose pardon of infirmities, and removal of inconveniences, shall be, as for you, and all the church of God, the prayer of,


Your most humble and obliged Servant

In the work of the Lord,

John Owen.

Coggeshall, Oct. 5, 1648.

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