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$ 4. Yet notwithstanding some life continued still, and the burning bush was not consumed. The means that did me good were, 1. I would pray once a day, at least in the morning; and this kept me from putrifying altogether. 2. Writing some practical divinity did me good, and put me likewise in a frame. 3. On the Sabbathday I would take some more time, and the Lord would ordinarily meet me with some life and affections; and then I would see the evil of my ways, and return. 4. Extraordinary times for meditation I would take ; and, when sin and distance would come to some height, I would retire and pour out my soul to God, and by this means get good, and I would put on new resolutions. 5. Afflictions now began likewise to work, and these kept my eyes waking, and would make an impression upon my spirit, and put me out to prayer, and would make mercies, whether spiritual or temporal, sweet to me. 6. Some seasonable words I would hear sometimes in good books, or sermons, or discourses, which did keep my bones green as it were, and would keep in my dying life; and through this it came to pass, that though I was much endangered by tentations, yet not altogether destroyed. : $ 5. God's end in this, for any thing I yet understand, was to let me see the evil of the good of the world. For now, having health, peace, liberty, company, divertisements, and money, I became carnal, that so I might see the evils of the world to be better than the good thereof. 2dly, That the remembrance of this mispent time might humble me afterwards, that in the sense of this I might walk softly and in bitterness, Hos. ix. 1; Isa. xxxviii. 15. 3dly, That thereby I might be the better assured of the Lord's everlasting love, who now, when afresh provoked, did not forsake me, but after all this returns. As, Imo, What a mercy that I was not taken away in my sins! If God should then have summoned me, how unprepared had I been, and what a terror would death then have been unto me? Ezek. xx. 8. 2do, In keeping in the dying and consuming life, that I fell not back altogether, and slept not the “ sleep of death,” Exod. iii. 2. 3tio, In his pains and visitations, whereby my spirit was upholden. Oh, how did he warn me! how
did he preserve my soul from falling, and dried mine eyes from tears! One time, despairing almost of doing any good, I was recovered and strengthened by that word, Deut. viii. 15, 16, “I led thee through a great and terrible wilderness, that I might do thee good in the latter end." Another time a graceless minister, of whom I expected nothing, did revive my spirit against the fears of wants in the world, in a sermon on these words, "Fear not, the hairs of your head are all numbered ;” and spake most pertinently to the case. 4to, At last he delivered me. And will not this God that hath accompanied me so far, carry me to the end ?
$ 6. From which I observe, 1st, The great wickedness and power of sin that is in every man's heart, that, notwithstanding of all means, will still be breaking out again and again. O how great need of great watchfulness is there, and spiritual dependence on God! 2dly, God's own people to whom he shows kindness, are not exempted from the greatest of evils, such as sins, tentations, desertions, decays, and afflictions; which should make us walk in fear and trembling, 2 Chron. xxxii. 26. 3dly, All the Lord's ways are mercy and truth to them that fear him; he brings good out of all evils; where sin abounds, grace superabounds. I trust this shall do me good, and make me “love much, because much is forgiven,” Psal. xxv. 10. 4thly, Prosperity, ease, and the desires of the soul, send leanness to the soul; the evils of the world are much better than the good thereof, Prov. i. 32. It is still better with me when I have least outward comforts. 5thly, Whatever God suffers in others for a time, or whatever their own thoughts may be, yet will not God suffer sin unpunished or uncorrected in professors, Amos iii. 2. Though God be merciful, gracious, and long-suffering, yet “ by no means will he clear the guilty.” Justice and mercy kiss one another; for about this same time my outward afflictions did begin, and the seeds of my future afflictions were sown. 6thly, All means to recover out of a backslidden condition will be in vain, though they keep life until the Lord Jesus' hour come, “In vain shalt thou use many medicines,” Jer. ii. 20, 22. 7thly, Prayer and meditation, though not always effectual for the end intended, yet are evermore profitable ; for though they did not altogether recover me, yet this I find, they did preserve me from utter falling: and so by experience I know the truth of this, “He hath not said to the house of Jacob, Seek his face in vain;" a great encouragement to duty, Heb. xi. 6; Job xxi. 15. For, ever since I remember, proportionable to my diligence in seeking was my finding : nor made I ever any extraordinary mint to seek God, but I found something extraordinary. Sthly, It is a concluded and resolved thing, which will universally hold true of all the people of God, That they shall not only have inward troubles, but likewise outward troubles in and from the world, and find it (they must)“ vanity and vexation of spirit;" that their affections may be weaned therefrom, and they made to seek another rest, and their graces may be exercised, John xvi. ult. Sthly, The hasty concluding, we have no interest in God, as it comes and is increased by security, so it is the ground of apostacy, and produces much evil. lmo, It offends God by rubbing a lie on him, and calling the work of his Spirit a natural work or worse. 2do, Unthankfulness for so great a work, the soul denying it. 3tio, No love to God, as conceiving him yet a stranger. 4to, No satisfaction, pleasure, or delight in the Lord or his ways, because no interest in them. 5to, And, there being no rest in God, there is a necessity of seeking it elsewhere in the creature. 6to, The hands weakened in seeking of God, since former pains are ineffectual: What can I do, that I have not done already ? saith the soul. 7mo, Hard thoughts of God as of an enemy and evil-wisher to poor sinners, rather than as one willing to save them, and that is their friend ; seeing no means can prevail with him. But, 10thly, and lastly, I learn a Christian's assurance or faith, though it do not firstly flow from holiness, yet is ever proportionable to his holy walking. Faith is kept in a pure conscience; sin is like a blot of ink fallen upon our evidences. This I found as a truth, and so will any not given up to the delusion of Antinomianism.
Of my recovery by faith. Being thus kept for a while in bonds, and not able to recover, I came home, and the Lord looked upon me thus.
§ 1. Being come home, and exceedingly afflicted with the remembrance of mispent time, and the cloud that was upon me, breaking out in outward troubles, being then in my sister's, I resolved, seeing my case was extraordinary, and, therefore, required an extraordinary remedy, and that fasting and setting some reasonable time apart had been so blest to me, I would try what the Lord would now do to me by it. The causes were my unsettledness and low condition. At that time I gave up myself to God to be directed by him; and he led me by an unexpected way, which was by convincing me of my unbelief, and humbling me under it, and drawing me by renewed acts of faith to himself again. The Lord made the strain of my discourse to run out on faith and unbelief, which last I considered as the greatest of evils. The considerations that then had influence upon me were, 1st, Unbelief was the only and great sin of the Israelites in the wilderness, for which the Lord was so angry, that he “ consumed their days in vanity,” Ps. lxxviii. 32, 33, because they did not trust in him, nor believed him for all his wonders. 2dly, Unbelief reflects on God, and says as much as, He is a liar, 1 John v. 10. An opinion of God's infidelity and treachery is the foundation of unbelief, as his truth is the ground of faith. 3dly, Unbelief is the mother and womb of all the departings and apostacies of the soul from God, Heb. ü. 12. Unbelief is the captain that strikes the first stroke, and leads all the armies of spiritual evil against us ; our faith is the first thing that fails in us. Athly, Unbelief is more heinous than the sin of Sodom, Mat. xi. 24—more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for unbelieving Capernaum. 5thly, Unbelievers are amongst the first and chief that shall be sent to the bottomless pit, Rev. xxi. 8, “ The fearful and unbelievers,” &c. 6thly, The Holy Ghost, when he comes to convince of sin, convinces of this most, John xvi. 9, “ When he comes, he will convince of unbelief;" as though there were no sin but this, or in comparison of this. 7thly, Unbelief is a sin against love and kindness, and the refusing of the offers of love; and this wounds the Lord most. Anything but unkindness, Acts xiii. 41—therefore,“ye despisers, wonder and perish.” 8thly, Unbelief is a sin against the person of Christ ; “ They would have none of me.” 9thly, Unbelief is a sin that makes the Lord lose much pains and travail. If a physician would have gone to a far country, and with great pains have brought a precious potion that only could heal his patient's disease ; if now the patient, after all this work, should spill it, or break the vessel in which it were, would not this go very far to the physician's heart? So it is here; the Lord Jesus hath come from the bosom of the Father, taught so much, suffered so much, waited so long on thee, suffered so much of thee, humbled thee, taken all the pains imaginable on thee, and all to make thee believe, and which is only able to do thee good; and wilt thou after all this refuse the potion ? 10thly, Unbelief is a dangerous and strong evil, that walks up and down the soul under the notion of humility, and can be hardly gotten away. With these considerations which God did press home on my soul, through his goodness and power, I was wrought on so powerfully and sweetly to believe the sinfulness of unbelief, and evil thereof; and the Lord commended faith so to me, that I found I was drawn to Christ by an irresistible yet suitable power, and yet so strongly, that I could not misbelieve, and was made to resolve and promise never more to misbelieve. I was passive, and found a divine power in it. (2.) From this there proceeded a new heart, resolution, and strength. (3.) All sorrows and fears were removed, and I was much comforted, quieted, and strengthened. (4.) Strengthened to seek the Lord and his ways. (5.) Sin in general mortified, and a particular sin, viz., playing at cards, quite felled, with which I had so long wrestled in vain, and to which I had so great an inclination that I continued in it against checks of conscience : that sin, I say, this day received its death's