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suggested unto me. 1st, Thou knowest not how thou sinned, nor the frame of thy heart at that time, whether thou didst utter these words of blasphemy in rage, or out of unwatchful folly; and wilt thou then condemn thyself upon uncertainties? This was rational, but did not calm my heart; it, like cold water cast on a burning, did for a time ease it, but did not heal, because little of God was here. 2dly, It was suggested to me, that those who had sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost never thought ill of it, nor rue that they did sin it. It was replied, There may be a rueing and a repenting, because there may be a fearful expectation which may make them rue what they have done. 3dly, At length the Lord brake in with this, It is certain, that those who have sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost can never sincerely repent. Yes, said I, that is true. Well, said the Lord, take but this counsel: Suspend for a time judging of yourself, neither concluding that your sin is pardonable or not, till you see whether God will give repentance or not; and, therefore, while the Lord spares your life, try him with this, and seek repentance of him. If he give grace, then mayest thou be certain and infallibly persuaded that thou hast not sinned this sin; but if not, and that God give you not repentance, you may conclude that you have sinned it, and will be damned, and your impenitency will damn you however. To despair will do no good, and by this course you can be no worse than you are; though thy condition be already desperate, what losest thou by this? you may get some peace in the meantime. This prevailed, and the Lord by it calmed my spirit, so as within a few days all the impressions of this temptation were worn away; but I little minded to endeavour repentance.
§ 4. During this time I lived in divers sins; as, 1st, In seeking and living in pleasures. 2dly, Omitting of duties, and excellent occasions of powerful sermons that were at that time preached by the ablest men in the kingdom; as, likewise, I neglected to improve the society of godly Christians. 3dly, Neglecting my book and mispending my time. 4thly, Continuing in a course of enmity against the most godly, and defaming them sometimes falsely. 5thly, Playing at unlawful games, as cards, dice, and other lotteries, and that in a place where severe laws were made against them. 6thly, Defaming of my neighbours with pasquils and light poems. 7thly, Carnal and light in my conversation. 8thly, Wasting and spending much money unnecessarily. 9thly, And once overtaken with drunkenness, fourteen days ere I was converted.
§ 5. From all this I learn, 1st, The time of youth is the most fit season to seek God. I found much tractableness in myself while I was young, Lam. iii. 27; Eccl. xii. 1. 2dly, That the best mean under heaven, for seasoning young ones with the knowledge of God, is the admonition, care, and watchfulness of superiors; this was the only thing that did me good, Eph. vi. 4; Gen. xviii. 19; Deut. vi. 7. 3dly, That the Lord doth usually bless this mean with success when it is made conscience of, Gen. xviii. 19, Abraham shall teach his children, and they shall keep my commandments. The pains of others upon me had some effect on my spirit, even whilst much did not appear to others. 4thly, There is a day of Christ's power; religion hath a time. Those who are now stamped with hell were then professing somewhat, and going about the means, and strict in observing the Lord's Day, Eccl. iii. 1. Every one got a touch of the wind of God's Spirit. 5thly, God is at much pains with sinners ordinarily ere he draw them fully, wholly, and effectually to himself. I was far from conversion at this time; only I learned that there was a certain glorious estate of grace to which some were brought, and that I was a stranger unto it. Rev. iii. 20, He stands and knocks. Isa. v. 4, "What more could be done to my vineyard?" Though there were no more, surely I am much bound to the Lord for his pains he takes on me. Cthly, God is good to the unthankful and evil when they are in extremity. He heareth the cry of nature, and did hear me in my extremity when I cried to him, Psal. cvii. 17, 18, 19; Isa. lvii. 17, 18, 19. 7thly, Let never any man, upon any account, neglect the use of prayer, or other means, though it seems never so unreasonable: for against hope, sense, and reason, when I was put to prayer, though there was nothing but the cries of oppressed nature, it was not in vain, 1 Kings xxi. 29; Psal. lxxviii. 36, 37, 38; 2 Kings xiii. 4, 5. 8thly, It is ordinary to seek to other physicians and means, and to rest on and close with them, ere there be a coining to Christ, Hos. v. 13. 9thly, All false rests will fail, and gilded grace will wear away, and must do so without Christ, partly because of their decaying nature. 1 Peter i. 24, "All flesh is as grass, and the glory thereof withereth;" partly because, while these continue green and fresh, the soul will not seek to come to Christ. None of the bad grounds came to perfection, Mat. xiii. lOthly, A soul that is a stranger to God, and true conversion, may get and receive some great favours and deliverances at the Lord's hand, and may have particular and clear experiences of the Lord's power and goodness, as Hagar, and may be therewith affected, Gen. xvi. 13. llthly, None can be so bad but they may be worse; there is no bounding or term of sin, 1 Kings xxi. to 16th verse. 12thly, I find the neglect or careless performance of private duties, especially meditation and prayer, to have ever a great influence on all the decays that happen to a person, Exod. xvii. 11; Psal. lvi. 9; Mat. xxvi. 41.
DECLARING THE WAV AND MANNER OF MY CONVERSION, AND OF SOME THINGS THAT HAPPENED THEN AND IMMEDIATELY THEREAFTER.
Of the Conversion itself.
§ 1. About the time that the related Providences happened unto me, being at the University, and being at the age of seventeen or eighteen years, our minister proposed to celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, of which he gave warning the Sabbath preceding the celebration thereof, I purposed (I know not upon what ground) to partake thereof. I had always a reverent esteem of that ordinance, and was under the deep impressions of eating and drinking my own damnation. I knew I was in an unconverted condition, and that, if betwixt that day and the next Lord's Day, I were not converted, that I would draw on myself a very grievous evil; and that, eating unworthily, I might give over hopes of ever thereafter being converted. The Lord did therefore put it in my mind, both by ordinary and extraordinary means, to do my utmost endeavour to win to a converted condition; nor was I of the judgment that conversion was within the compass of my own power, but I hoped that, doing diligence, the Lord might help; and for this cause set to work immediately, beseeching God that he would once effectually work upon my spirit, seeing all former means had been used in vain. I went to sermon, and I found a better relish in the sermon than I had wont to find, and had an ear to hearken more attentively than at other times. After we were gone from church, I spent the rest of the day in spiritual exercises, and so was continuing very diligent in seeking the Lord, growing daily in the knowledge and love of his ways, seeing a beauty, and finding a relish that I never knew before. Books and discourses of practical divinity were only sweet, and so were spiritual exercises. I had now tasted of the wine, but had not bought it.
§ 2. But on Wednesday, by six o'clock at night, finding by marks I had read in books that I was not converted, and not getting that extraordinary thing I expected, and withal fully resolved to partake of the Sacrament, I feared that I should eat and drink damnation to my own soul, and then that the remedilessness of my condition would be out of doubt. Sometimes I thought that I would suspend communicating at that time; and if this resolution had prevailed, I would not have troubled myself with religion at that time: for this was the day of my visitation, and this made mc take pains even to eat and drink worthily. Therefore, hoping still for some good, I continued in my resolution; but as I said, when I saw all in vain, and that I met not with what I expected, though 1 met with more than ever I did before, discouragements did quite overwhelm me, and fears of drawing on more guilt did load me; and, withal, this apprehension lay heavy on me, and haunted me like a ghost, That it was in God's mind never to do me good; so that fear, discouragement, vexation, and despair, and some horror and grief, did all take hold of me. I resolved to set the next day apart for fasting, and therein to seek God, hoping that these extraordinary means might do something. Hanging, therefore, by this small thread, I went to prayer with many sad complaints; and the Lord, while I was like the prodigal son yet a great way off, ran to meet me. I addressed myself to speak to the Lord Christ, and then was there a Gospel view given me of him; and some considerations and representations of Christ were brought into my mind, that he was the Mediator, a friend and Saviour to poor sinners, their only helper, the way, and the truth, and the life, that died for them, and one willing to be reconciled. What shall I say? While I was thus exercised, a marvellous light shincd on my understanding, and with the eyes of my mind, not of my body, I saw that Just One in his glory, and love, and offices, and beauty of his person; such a sight as I never did see anything like it, and which did so swallow me up as I turned speechless, and only said, What is this? And where am I now? The glory, love, and loveliness of Jesus, revealed to me, did very far exceed all that ever I saw or could see in the world, insomuch that there was no comparison. I was drawn by this, and after I had recovered, I said, O Lord, thou hast overcome me! Heart and hand, and all that I have, is thine; I am content to live and die with thee. Begone, poor world, and beggarly vanities, and despiteful devil and flesh, I will serve you no longer; I know now of a master and lover to whom henceforth I will dedicate myself. Now are all my doubts loosed; and now I see that I have not sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost. What shall I now do for the Lord? Let heaven and earth, angels and men, praise him: for he hath looked graciously upon me, and that in my low condition. What am I, or my father's house, that thine eye should be cast on me? There followed upon this such liberty as I thought I could spend the whole night in