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me secure that I may not fear; it is but a delusion. 'Winch had these sad effects upon my soul; 1st, Strange and hard thoughts of God as of an enemy, Luke xix. 21; Gen. in. 5, as one that envied our good. 2dly, I judged all that God said of his love in his word to be but wind at best, or compliments or snares to entrap; and so made him a liar, 1 John v. 10, and by this means was made incapable to be taken with Christ's allurements in the gospel. 3dly, Hence I could neither love nor believe him, nor by any means be drawn to him, 1 Cor. xiii. 7, "Charity believeth all things." For how could I love him in whom I believed I had no other interest than that of a cruel judge ready to condemn, and watching for evil against me, and that when his "words were smoother than oil?" Psal. lv. 21; Zech. xi. 8. 4thly, I had no will to keep communion with him, was wearied of him. When the Israelites said, "We have no portion or inheritance in the son of Jesse," the next was, "Every man to his tents," and did quit him. Jer. iii. 19, "Thou shalt call me, My Father, and shalt not depart from me." 5thly, I was heartless or slight in duties, whereby he was honoured, and communion with him entertained; wanting love and hope, Jer. xviii. 12; Lam. i. 9; Luke xix. 21. Through unbelief my hands were weakened, and I departed from the living God. 6thly, Finding no satisfaction in God, which I could not do whilst these principles remained, I behoved to have it elsewhere in the creature. Jer. ii. 13, "Forsaking of God, the fountain of living waters, and hewing to ourselves broken cisterns," are joined. 7thly, Sermons did me no good, because not heard with faith, Heb. iv. 2, whereas, if I had believed and trusted in God, I should be strengthened with the joy of his salvation, Neh. viii. 10; Prov. xvii. 22; 2 Cor. ii. 7. § 2. Step 2. Notwithstanding of all this, I had hopes, that though as yet the Lord had not converted me, yet I might be converted, and therefore did not despair of it. Some secret thoughts in duties would drop in persuading me to hope, and some relish in duties. As likewise, since I was persuaded by a strong hand my sins were pardonable, and that the Lord possibly might pardon; this made me continue in the means. Satan therefore sought to beat me from this, or at least to make me remiss in them; and, knowing that palpable vanities would not do, (for I had been burned with that candle already,) therefore would compass this by making me close with an appearance of good, which he did thus: I studied stenography or short-writing, in the study of which, aiming at perfection In it, I was excessive, and so taken up altogether from any other thing, that I could scarce get the form of duties gone about two times a day. In end I resolved to give way, cheated with this, that, the sooner I acquired knowledge herein, I should the sooner have leisure to wait on God; but, however, this spirit of whoredom caused me to err, and took away my heart. This was the second mean of my decay.
§ 3. Step 3. When I was called home, through want of godly company, and dead formal society among which I lived, I was brought a further length of decay, even to omit duties almost altogether; contenting myself ordinarily with bed-prayers, and slight reading of Scripture and godly books. Several things had influence on this; the want of a convenient room, a prevailing spirit of sloth that would not break through difficulties, some false hopes that all would be well. Sometimes my heart would secretly despair, and prophesy things would never be better, and it is in vain to pray; through these tliings it came to pass that my heart turned altogether out of tune, and heeded not my work at all. Now had preachings and sermons no relish at all; then did I see that fulfilled, "He that followeth vain persons shall become poor," Prov. xxviii. 19; 1 Cor. xv. 33, " Evil company comipteth good manners."
§ 4. Step 4. Then, through want of the fear of God, and unwatchfulness, did I become vain and light in my conversation ; I followed lies and vanities; I carded, complied with sinfid customs, made no conscience of what company I came into, "inventing to myself instruments of musie," and seeking contentment from the creature. When company was away, my heart turned melancholy, but did not turn to God. I would pray when trysted with any disappointments; but still, through interruption, lost more ground than 1 gained, so as I went daily down the stream, and grew exceodinir hard-hearted. Spiritual duties were a weariness and a burden; and thus I was not only discouraged and remiss in duties, slighting them altogether, but grew very untender and carnal in my conversation.
§ 5. Whence a fifth step, which was, going to some relations to pass a visit, where there were many professors and much profession; but there I got a dead stroke, so as it is a wonder how ever I recovered; in a word, I turned desperate, and said, "There is no hope; I have loved idols, and after them I will go," Jer. ii. 25. The grounds of this despair were, 1st, A great and long account of sins that had run up upon me, which I thought would never be pardoned, Jer. ii. 28. 2dly, The terrible hard frame of my heart, and great deadness I was in, so that I thought I would never recover again, Jolm xi. 39; Ezek. xxxvii. 3, "Can these bones live?" Gen. xviii. 11, 12. 3dly, Some fruitless vain attempts I made to recover myself; my strength wasted in vain; and hence I said, "This evil is of the Lord, and remediless, what should I wait on him any more?" 2 Kings vi. 33. 4thly, The complaints, doubts, and discouragements of others, and their unsuitable walking up to their principles, who yet were eminent for godliness in the estimation of others; they went with bowed down backs, and raised an ill report to me of the Lord and his ways; and therefore were my hands weakened by these spies, Num. xiii. 30. 5thly, Their unloving carriage towards me, and keeping at a distance, and taunting me. At another time, seeking to join in with them, and to bear the burden of a good discourse lest it should die, I was put off with a taunt. It is true, my conversation at that time was not gospel-like; yet they had beams in their own eyes, and they should have dealt in greater meekness with me, and kythed love by a friendly reprehension. This turned me averse to them, and to their way. Ezek. xxxiv. 21, They pushed with horn and side, and this produced scattering. 6thly, I was but too much countenanced by others, and humoured and complied with; for I was given to foolish jesting, and they took but too much pleasure in this, and never once gave me a friendly warning or reproof, although my ways were
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displeasing to them: "The soul that lacketh instruction shall die." 7thly, Satan was beating in strange tentations on my soul, sometimes telling me I was judicially hardened since I could not mourn for my sins, and that it was ever so since my terrors were removed. And then that place, Isa. vi. 10, came to my mind, "Make the heart of this people fat." Sometimes thinking my time was past, and my day gone, and that Christ had given his last knock, and that the door was shut. That place, Prov. i. 26, troubled me, "Because I called, and ye would not hear, therefore shall ye call, and I will not hear;" therefore, it is in vain now to cry or pray. Sometimes Satan said I had sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost, citing Heb. vi. 4. For it is true (was it suggested to me) thy blasphemies were not that sin, because thou didst that in unbelief, and not enlightened; but now thou hast been enlightened, and tasted of the powers of the world to come, and hast fallen away, and laid a new foundation from thy dead works for repentance, and therefore it is impossible to be renewed again; and this is the sin against the Holy Ghost. This raised not that terror in me which tentations of this kind were wont to do formerly; only made me heartless, and discouraged me. And then would Satan add, Dost thou not mark how unmoved thou art with this heavy message, which would cause any other to tremble but thyself? And why art thou not shaken? Because the Lord has hardened thee like Pharaoh, that thou canst not hearken; the sentence is past, and the stone is laid upon thy grave; and now all thy life is gone, thou art twice dead, and plucked up by the roots. With these thoughts I was dung from duties and their cheerful exercise; with pleasures, company, and want of inward and outward exercise, I was kept in my security and strong bonds.
§ 6. My sins were, 1st, Slighting and omitting of duties, public and private. 2dly, Vain and light conversation like the world; the show of my countenance witnessed against me. 3dly, Idle jesting, Eph. v. 4. 4thly, Breaking of the Sabbath with idleness and mine own words. 5thly, Following of the lusts of the flesh, and divers vanities. 6thly, Sensuality. 7thly, Doing no good, neither gloritying God, nor edifying others, nor profiting myself. 8thly, Haunting vain company, and not reproving them. 9thly, Sinful customs and recreations, though debated by some; such as healthing and playing at cards.
§ 7. Notwithstanding of this, the Lord upheld me by his right hand, and kept in the dying spunk, that all these waters could not quite extinguish it; I fell not totally away, nor was I utterly forsaken of God, Jer. v. 5. For these things remained; 1st, 1 was put out to pray, meditate, and read now and then; I was not dung altogether from duties; I did not show myself to have no knowledge at all, in not calling on God, Psal. xiv. 4. 2dly, There remained a secret and quiet hope things would be well, and a looking up to him; though cast down, yet not in despair, 2 Cor. iv. 8. 3dly, Love and affection to, and estimation of, the people of God, and delight in them, still remained, so as even then I loved them above others. 4thly, Dissatisfiedness with my present condition, groaning under and mourning when I remembered the days of old; this course was not pleasant, I was like a bone out of joint, these matters were not my element. 5thly, Some love to my first husband remained, and a preferring of the first course and life, even in its worst, before this, even as one prefers the day to the night; and often would I say that word, with Job, "O that it were with me as in months past, when the candle of the Lord shined upon my head!" Job xxix. 2, 3, 4. 6thly, I knew that it was ill with me; though I slept, yet I was not so dead as to be without sense or knowledge altogether.
§ 8. God's ends in this, for anything I can learn, were only to give further proof of his love, in renewing his kindness, in sparing me whilst in this condition, in preserving me from turning apostate, and, in his time, graciously reviving me again with much pains and long labour. 2dly, To keep me watchful in time coming, lest a worse thing befall me. 3dly, And to let me find the power of sin, and of my original corruption, more fully, 2 Chron. xxxii. 31. 4thly, To keep me humble for ever after it, that I may not open the mouth, Ezek. xvi. fi3.