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much light and comfort, both in the nature.of the duty, and how to go about it; wherein Satan had a hand in pressing it; and that my unwillingness thereto did proceed not from infirmity; and that my omission was not in the substance of the duty, but in the manner and degree of freedom, boldness, and compassion, and did proceed from ignorance and unbelief. 12thly, I found likewise much mercy, good-will, tenderness, and care of Christ towards me in this present exercise; and much good did it to me, so that the storm was now much over. 13thly, But that which did me most good was, a more full discovery of the covenant of grace, meditations of the gospel, of Christ's gentle nature, as likewise some particular promises that were by the operation of the Spirit very clearly applied; among which these were the chief, 1 Tim. i. 15, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation." O what of life and sweetness was discovered in that one word one evening after supper, John iii. 17, " God sent not his Son to condemn the world!" And that word, Ps. lxv. 5, God is the " confidence of all the ends of the earth;" and he "justifies the ungodly." "They that know thee will put their trust in thee." "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness." And that Scripture, 1 Cor. i. 30, " God hath made Christ wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." And that in John xv. 16, " Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." From which these truths were made clear to me; 1. That nothing in man is the first ground of hope or despair. 2. That the whole ground of our hopes is in Christ alone. 3. That sinners have right to absolute promises; or the first ground of faith is an absolute promise. Christ is not a person with whom they have nothing ado, but is their hope and salvation; and these promises are sayings, though absolute, to lay hold on for acceptation. 4. That Christ's relation is to men as sinners, and not as to whole or righteous: "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." It is with sinners Christ hath ado, and not to condemn them, but to give them life; and, when they cannot come to him for life, to seek them. The fathers must lay up for the children, and not they for the parents. 5. Such is the nature of Christ, that he only came to show mercy, hath no wrath or law, came not to condemn: "Fury is not in me." And that it is as unreasonable to expect condemnation from Christ, as to expect cold water from fire; and, therefore, whosoever knows him cannot but believe in him: and that there is nothing in Christ but what is matter of joy and comfort. 6. All salvation depends on Christ's good-will only, and everything relating thereto, all which is made ours. 7. That God himself is the drawer up of the sinner's security for heaven and blessedness; Christ is " made of God, wisdom, righteousness," &c.; "I have given him for a covenant to the people." 8. That the Lord bestows this right freely and absolutely, which free promise is the ground of faith, and not the purchase of faith. 9. That nothing damns but unbelief, in not pressing the Lord with these promises, all which are comprehended in that one word, " This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ came to save sinners." Here now was I fixed on a rock that was able to bide all storms. Is Christ then the ground of all my hopes? and do my hopes depend wholly on him? and have I a promise that all will be well? and is this promise that to which I must take myself? and is this promise given freely of God? Surely then, though I see nothing in myself but what is matter of grief, sorrow, and despair, yet here is matter of hope; I cannot misbelieve, unless I reflect on Christ. Shall I misdoubt him, who is all mercy and no wrath, who came not at all to damn, whose offices and relations are all good? These and the like did quiet me, knowing that all my happiness was freely secured in Christ Jesus alone, in whom I was complete; yea, I found the great end of this storm was to draw me off myself, to live in and to depend wholly on Christ for strength, justification, and comfort. 14thly, My natural melancholy was cured by divertisements; for I had a call to go elsewhere, where employment and godly company did me much good as to the refreshing of my spirit. And thus by these means was the storm gradually allayed; the best trial for me I ever endured.
§ 4. The ends of which dispensations were, 1. To try, exercise, and strengthen my faith, which was never so livelily exercised, nor did ever endure such a conflict, nor ever had such sure footing; for by considering the gospel, though it were granted I was never converted, yet, sure I am, I ought to come to Christ, and look up to him, and expect from him, and be of good cheer, seeing God is the "confidence of all the ends of the earth." And my consolation must be as solid and strong as the ground thereof, so that with this shield I abide all darts, this answereth all objections, this is "the Rock higher than I." 2. To make me a little more serious, and to have a deeper and weightier apprehension of the things of God; for the truth is, till this time I looked on myself, and the most part of professors, to be but in jest with their religion; and I bless the Lord, some of these impressions remain still. 3. To discover to me the evil of the world, of the pleasures, profit, and honour thereof; and to bring my soul to a compliance with the cross of Christ, as that whereon most security and quietness is to be found: "He that loseth his life shall find it." The world is an evil, and only evil, the great bar that hinders from Christ; it is loadened with sin, full of danger, and enmity to God; it is Christ's competitor, rival, and enemy. And this was not only discovered in me, but the aversion and fear of the world was in some measure wrought in me. 4. To acquaint me with Satan's devices, whereby he hinders the work of salvation, the many sophisms and mistakes of my own heart in the nature of sanctification; it made me search more narrowly into many things than ever I did. 5. To make me esteem the Scriptures, and walk more closely by them in all my ways; for they only speak aright of God, of dispensations; they are the foundation of hope and faith, and we must judge of things according as they are represented in Scripture, and not by reason or fancy. 6. To stir me up to be more profitable to others, which was a great challenge now, and the neglect of it a heavy burden; and the duty itself was much pressed at this time. 7. To live off myself and sense, on the Lord Jesus alone; and not on him as felt, but on him as given in his word and promise; and not on any thing of him to be given here, but what we are to receive in heaven. The conclusion was this, My grace is sufficient; "When I am weak, then am I strong;" and here is rest and life. And by this storm, and the conclusions I then laid, I became more settled, and less shaken with tentations; and this did much establish me in faith, patience, humility, and duty.
§ 5. I will conclude with a few observations. 1. Soul-trouble hath sometimes a sweetness in it, for, considering this was the hand of God, I laid myself flat under it. Now, Lord, let me never out of this furnace till my dross go away. 2. I found soul-trouble not good in itself but evil, and that it produces much weakness and aversion from duty. 3. When God is angry, every thing is terrible. Duties, meat, drink, and company, had a hell stamped upon them, and a little loss, having wrath stamped on it, is a world of evil. 4. The world is a dangerous tiiing and a great evil, and the comforts of it a hell. It is good to be continually afflicted here; "In the world ye shall have tribulation." Most of my exercise did drive at this. 5. Whatever our exercise or tentations be, it is profitable to pray and continue in the means. 6. It is good to be considerate, and not to be rash in closing with apprehensions and suggestions. 7. It is a sad affliction to an exercised soul to want good company, and evil carnal company is a hell itself. 8. Soul-trouble hath its time; it is not always alike violent, but I find sometimes a calm, and at other times it comes in stounds and fits; the evil hour. 9. We should not murmur that the Lord doth not lead us according to our minds; but, in exercises especially, we should let the Lord guide us as best seems him, and a patient surrender of ourselves doth much good. 10. There may be many sweet hours and little deliverances in a soul exercise ere all be done. I was many times caught up to heaven, but anon plunged to hell. 11. The best mean of settlement is to live by faith in Jesus Christ alone, and to live at a distance from the world. 12. A soul may have many enemies to wrestle with in one soul-trouble, but he hath not the same one to wrestle always with. Sometimes he hath the wrath of God, sometimes an evil heart; and the s0ul should continually conflict with one of these at once, according as they invade him. 13. No soul-trouble will cure all evils perfectly; they but help in part. 14. The great end of such trials is to exercise faith, and to waken people, and to make them more serious. Many other things might be observed. This befell me when I was twenty-seven years of age, in November and December 1665.
Of what befell me thereafter.
§ 1. Notwithstanding of this furnace, yet, when I was out of it, I found much dross. For, 1.1 was grievously oppressed with a spirit of sloth and indisposition to all manner of duties. 2. There was a legal spirit that made me act in fear, and not in love or in faith to be accepted, which did represent God as a judge, and that he had evil ends in desiring obedience, whereby there was much forced work. 3. A kind of aversion and strangeness to God and heaven, not having such intimate and loving thoughts of him, and withal a loatheness to go to heaven as a strange place. 4. Likewise I found a strong league with the world, and the power of it considerable and strong, which hath cost me until this day much conflict and hard work. 5. My deadness and ignorance remained and grew upon me, so that I was dark in my conceiving, and untender in my apprehensions; so that several errors in my conversation were vented, such as idle words, vain thoughts, excess in the use of lawful comforts, pride in thought and speech, departing from God.
§ 2. Yet did some of my dross go away with this furnace; and blessed be the Lord that made this trial profitable to me. For, 1. I was more diligent in doing good to others than formerly, and therefore would be oftentimes minding the poor and ignorant in private, praying for them, thinking of the way to do them good, and stirring up my soul thereunto. And as there were some thoughts of this in private, so there was outward and practical