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walking as in the sight of God. 2<lo, Sensuality in the immoderate use of comforts, being naturally given to appetite. 3tio, Idle vain words, and vain conversation. 4to, Unprofitable spending of time, and not improving opportunities and occasions of good, letting my generation-work lie by. 5to, Carnality in all my actions, civil and religious, not doing things spiritually. 6to, Sloth in going about the means ; beside the inward evils of pride, murmuring, and unbelief, and want of love and fear.
§ 3. But as the Lord showed kindness to his people in the wilderness, notwithstanding all their provocations, so did he to me: and I observed his love during this time in several particulars; lmo, When I was in hazard to sleep the sleep of death, and to depart from the Lord through my discouragements and plagues of heart, evil and carnal company; what mercy was it, to clear me from my discouragements, to take me to the wilderness from the crowd of the world, and against the stream of indispositions, sloth, and discouragements; to persuade and make me return and seek the Lord in the use of all means, "if so be there might be hope," when I had no mind of it, nor heart to it? How did he convince me that my time was not yet gone; that when I was departed, and like to fall, nay, far gone in a consumption of which I would have died, that I should be prevented and healed, and that he should renew his kindness, and would not let me depart for ever, but stirred me up to seek the Lord? He "found me in an howling wilderness," ready to perish, gasping out my last, Deut. xxxii. 10. There had I perished for ever; but the Lord made a second voyage for me, he "came to seek and to save that which was lost." 2do, W hat love and mercy was in this, that when through sense of deadness, spiritual wilderness-wants, fierce tentations, and great darkness, I was ready to go back unto Egypt, or to faint in the way, that he should have given me water out of the rock, and should by visitations have upholden my spirit, and by these encouraged me, and kept in my dying life, training me on piece and piece? 3tio, But Oh! what shall I think of his continued mercy, his being ever with me? Though I was wild, weak, and unworthy, and sinfiil, and ever destroying myself; yet all my steps were guided by him, he was ever with me, pitying me, ever sparing me, ever relieving in my extremity, and preventing my utter ruin; so that all this time he was with me in love, long-suffering, pity, and goodness, when I could not shift for myself at all. How long did I "stay in the place of the breaking forth of children," and was no way profitable to him at all, doing no good in the world, and through unbelief constructing all to the worst? Yet was he still with me, and never left me until he had brought me unto a " Rock higher than I." Oh what unwearied pains and cost was he at! Oh shall I ever forget his condescendency! I thought ill that mine evils came through mine own default. For though I should turn dead and God had left me, if I had then been on my watchtower I would not care; but the Lord would have my restoration of free grace from himself. Readily then I would say, it was my waiting, and watching, and diligence, that did recover me; Oh not! hut when sinful, when asleep, when given over, he would come, that it might appear, "not for your sakes do I this, but for my name's sake." There was not only wisdom, power, and pity, but likewise a coming over my sins, and great mercy; and now I think it no worse, and no less comfortable, that my mercies had his name engraven on them, even his grace, though there be not such ground for boasting. I was indeed the bush burning, and not consumed. Lord, "What is man, that thou lookest on him, and visitest him every morning?" Job vii. 17, 18.
§ 4.I remember, when I came to Edinburgh first, and not having room to pray, and likewise overcome with discouragements, not seeing an end of my labours, I began to faint and weary; and trie Lord let me alone for a while, and I grew worse and worse. Until one Sabbath-day I went to hear an able minister, and much cried up; but there was such a throng that I could not get him heard, nor to any other church in the town; only I stumbled at last in the English church which was then in the town, with no gTeat hope to get any good. The minister preached on these words, "A braised reed will he not break." What shall I say? The Lord assisted him with such power, and he spoke so seasonably to me, that I was again revived and set in the way, and resolved to hold on till I should find the Lord; yea, it was then that I had some thoughts that I was converted, and some of my ordinary objections were answered.
§ 5. I began again to faint and depart, because I thought never one was in my condition. And, being in a conference with a godly man, he told me the history of his conversion, and what brave days he had seen, and how that nothing now was but deadness, carnality, and unbelief. This had such influence, that again my heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord, and that I was not singular, but my case was common, and therefore resolved to seek the Lord. And at the same time I got in my hands a piece of Mr Shepherd's I had never seen before, which the Lord blessing, after some consideration I resolved once more to assault the city, and to beseech God more earnestly than ever I had done before, which I was helped in some measure to do, and found the profit of it.
§ 6. A while after, fainting and giving over, I read on Mr Shepherd's "Sound Believer" concerning soul humiliation, where he speaks to this purpose: "One way by which the Lord Jesus (saith he) in the day of his power doth humble a poor sinner is, by letting him see the wildness of his own heart and duties; whereby the soul thinks, can these that are so wild save me? And then (saith he) the soul thinks, though for the present I be not well, yet hopes it shall do better in process of time, and thereupon falls to afresh; but Christ loads and wearies the soul with duties; and, after all its labour, the soul findeth itself worse than before. And here again the soul falleth down, finding itself to row against both wind and tide." Well, (quoth I,) this is like me, and this is it which God is doing with me. But, alas! my heart is hard, and I never felt conviction and compunction yet; how can I be come to humiliation then? Well, I read further, until he brings the bumbled soul to speak thus: "Oh miserable wretch that I am! never worse than now. Once I could mourn, and pray, and sorrow, and never well but when out of one duty into another; but now a dead, blind, hard heart seizeth upon me, so as I can get nothing done." Here I stopt, and said, Then blessed be the Lord, that hath not let me alone, but given me so much light as to discern my way, and where I am. And is God indeed humbling me, and preparing me for Christ? I see that God hath left me to my deadness, that the sense thereof might draw me to Christ; for, as the same author saith, "More are drawn to Christ under the sense of a dead blind heart, than by all sorrows, humiliations, and terrors." I trust God, that hath begun the work, will finish it. I was wonderfully strengthened by this; it is good to be in God's hands, howsoever matters be. With these and the like was my spirit kept up in this wilderness.
§ 7. I have been searching into the Lord's ends in this to me, and am never more satisfied than when I conclude them to be :— lmo, That I might know all the evil in my heart, my weakness and sinfulness, that thereby I might be humbled, who have so often departed, and whose whole life was a grieving of God, Deut. viii. 2 ; 2 Chron. xxxii. 31; John ii. 25. 2do, That I might thereby be made acquaint with the methods and way of conversion, with which, through my hasty incoming, I was not so well acquaint. God did now, as it were, act over again conversion; he convinced me, not only of actual sins, but of heart-sins and heart-plagues, and of that fountain-sin of nature which continually departed from God, and fiercely resisted him in all his ways; he convinced me that I could not help myself, and that neither prayers nor means could help me; that I could neither buy nor conquer heaven. He wearied me with duties and enlargements, and in the greatness of my way, and loaded me with the multitude of my counsels and inventions. At last he humbled me, and calmed me, and made me believe. So that I think the Lord designed to acquaint me with the method of conversion, that I might be the more enabled to edify others, Acts v. 32, being myself a witness, and not heard it only, but also felt and seen, that I might speak to this purpose,
1 John i. 1; Psal. xxxiv. 4, 6,11. "Not ignorant of his devices,"
2 Cor. ii. 11. 3tio, That God might do me much good in the end,
VOL. II. K
of which I had promise given me, and rationally and seasonably borne in upon my spirit, from Deut. viii. 16, in one of my dolorous hours, Heb. xii. 11; Jer. xxv. 4. I indeed expect much good from all this preparation and hard beginning. 4to, I look upon this as the only way to preserve me from backsliding. By these means, and by emptying me from vessel to vessel, came it to pass that mine eyes were kept waking, and from settling on my lees; for I might perceive by Scripture, and sad experience, that many were full of their own enlargements and graces, and so fixed as they thought they had no more ado, and, therefore, like that rich man, Luke xii., said, "Soul, take thy rest, thou hast enough for many days." The foolish virgins thought their great business was done; by which means being, as they supposed, past all danger, they slumbered and slept, and through sloth lost all; and, being settled on their lees, lost all, and backslided and apostatised miserably, and lost all life. But the Lord kept mine eyes waking, and gave me still my hands full ado; and, when I would seek rest, the Lord, by a new storm, would awaken me again; when discouraged through fears, temptations, desertions, and sins, and so like to give over because no hope, then would the Lord revive; and when I would say, "It is good to be here, let us make tabernacles," then a cloud would come; so as, by lifting up, and casting down, I was daily kept in exercise, depending, praying, and fighting, Judges iii. 1; Psal. lxxiii. 3, 4, 5, 14; Jer. xlviii. 11; Psal. lv. 19; Job vii. 18. 5to, To manifest to me, and to give me experience of his love, condescendency, and constancy, who in all my ways was with me, and that has never left me until he had his work wrought in me, that preserved me in this great wilderness, that did bear with my manners there, that supplied me continually in my extremities, Deut. viii. 5. 6to, To beat me out of my self-righteousness, worthiness, and sense, that thereby I might be fastened on the "Rock higher than I," that finding no rest for the sole of my foot by duties and enlargements, but they decaying under me, I might seek rest where it might be found, Mat. xi. 28, that, these sandy foundations being razed, I might build on that which will endure for