(The following is the introduction to the reader of Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, one of the classic Puritan writings by Thomas Brooks (1608-1680). Brooks is one of the most readable Puritans, and one of the most delightful. He is my favorite, except for Thomas Watson. An example of his sweetness and depth at the same time is evident right here in this introduction. An introduction! Yet it has such great thoughts that it certainly compliments the main piece. Oh, I would love to be able to write introductions like his! If this whets your appetite for Brooks, Precious Remedies (which I highly recommend), is available in paperback from Banner of Truth. More from Puritans currently featured on my site cyberwordoftruth.
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. 'If truth be the cause of contention, nothing but death can separate me from it, and even that cannot do it.'—Jerome. 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 fore-fathers have bought with their blood, which should make us willing to lay down any thing, and lay out every thing, that we may with the wise merchant in the gospel, Mat. xiii. 45, 46. purchase this precious pearl, which is of more worth than heaven and earth, and which will make a man live happily, die comfortably, and reign eternally.
And now if thou pleasest, read the following work, and receive this counsel from me.
First, Thou must know that every man cannot be excellent, yet may be useful. An iron key may unlock the door of a golden treasure, yea, iron can do some things that gold cannot do.
Secondly, Remember, it is not hasty reading, but seriously 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 flowers that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon them, and drawing 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.
Thirdly, Know that it is not the knowing, 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.' It was a good saying of Justin Martyr, ' Our religion consists not in speaking of the things, but in doing them.' Judas called Christ, Lord, Lord, and yet betrayed him, and is gone to his place; Ah! how many Judas's 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 impressed 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 thou art, the more miserable thou wilt be in the day of recompence; thy light and knowledge will torment thee more 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. That man who reads that he may know, and 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.
Fourthly and lastly, if in thy reading thou wilt cast a serious eye upon the margin, thou wilt find many sweet and precious notes, that will oftentimes give light to the things thou readest, and pay thee for the pains with much comfort and profit. So desiring that thou mayest find as much sweetness and advantage in reading this Treatise, as I have found, (by the over-shadowing of heaven) in the studying and writing of it, I recommend thee to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build thee up, and to give thee an inheritance among them which are sanctified. And rest, Reader,
Thy Soul's Servant in every office of the Gospel,
Some editing and emphasis mine (CW)