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ence to duty, rather than the call of providential conveniency of doing it; whereby many occasions of doing good, to others especially, have been lost through indisposition to these duties, and some seeming dispositions to do other duties. And this is so much the more dangerous, that it begins to be a debated principle, which of the two, viz., the disposition of the spirit or providential conveniency is to be followed? seeing, if I follow not the disposition of my spirit, then I shall do the other duty but heartlessly, and omit a duty to which my spirit is disposed; and besides, James v. 13, would seem to be for it. But I have most peace and success when I follow the providential conveniency, Mark xiv. 37, 38.
12. There is nothing does me more ill than a legal spirit or spirit of bondage, whereby Satan presses to duties violently, i. e., represents God as a hard master and an austere judge; as one that commands and requires duties, as tyrannical rulers make laws to entrap the subjects, pressing to hard duties, and so putting new wine into old bottles, and that under the highest pains; and to do it hastily, not giving time to breathe; and requiring such exactness, or else not at all to be accepted; and that without any promise of assistance. So that, finding the Lord's yoke so hard, I have either casten it off, or sometimes heartlessly performed it; and nothing hath prejudiced me more than this. Talents have been slighted, because God was apprehended as a hard master; the Lord not served, because our yoke not made light; aversion and want of love to God, because of fear, 1 John iv. 18. But I have spoken of this in Section 10, 1st Evil. It is no wonder, therefore, if the bondwoman should be cast out; of the evil of which, when I have been convinced, I have come to the other extreme, in casting out the bond-woman altogether, and to indulge myself wholly, as I have said in the 10th Deceit.
13. When I could not be driven from laying to heart matters of salvation, yet hath Satan, for the most part of my time, busied mo with the lesser matters of religion, and made me neglect the substantial and fundamental points; so as nice points have been studied, and death, hell, heaven, God's attributes, sin, providence, the resurrection, fall of man, have been neglected, because more common; whereas the greatest good is in these, Matth. xxiii. 23, " Ye tithe anise and cummin.''
14. Satan, by making me pore excessively on evidences of grace, and by occupying me in laying continually the foundation and trying it, as thinking it never sure enough, hath thereby kept mc from my generation-work, and from progress in grace; in which exercises, if I had been as diligent as in examination of myself, I might have been assured more quickly, 2 Pet. i. 10. It is true, we should examine our states, 2 Cor. xiii. 5, but it is wrong to be only and continually taken up with this ; so that, when called to patience, and believing, and honouring of God, Satan hath said, Lay a foundation ere ye build a superstructure: but it is dangerous to be trying our armour when we are called to fight, (as one said,) Ileb. vi. 1. If ye have not full assurance of your state, yet take your hazard of the precious foundation laid in Zion, and build on it. God lays this foundation, and this foundation standeth sure.
15. In making faith or any work in us the foundation of my comfort, rather than the free, full, and immutable promise and goodwill of God in Christ; and in making the foundation of duty to be rather from our covenant with God, or our part of it, than from the Lord's covenant with us, and his part of it which hath a long time kept me unsettled and wavering, 2 Sam.xxiii. 5; Ezek.xvi. 62. "Not by virtue of thy covenant."
16. But Satan and mine own heart hath kept me strongly and long in this snare of seeking to establish my own righteousness. For when my heart hath been in any good frame, and under sense of wants, and desiring to be found in duty, hath resolved to go about such and such means, for obtaining of such things; I say, I have found Satan deceiving me herein, making me love these duties, means, and graces, and the obtaining them at such a time, because these graces and duties, means, and time, have been the product of mine own desires and resolutions, and so have been mine own (as it were) and choice. And, therefore, when other means were bestowed no less suitable, yet have I despised them, because not mine own choice and purchase; and when the love and manifestation thereof have run through another channel than I have cut for it to run in, I have been grieved, and prized the mercy less. And when I have fallen in sins resolved against, I have grieved more upon the account that my resolutions have been broken, and will crossed, because I had "set my heart as the heart of God," than either for the wrong done to God or mine own hazard; and so, like God, I have loved no thing but the object of my own decree. Whereby God hath been provoked to break these resolutions, by which the tower that reached to heaven was cast down, Prov. xix. 3; Rom. x. 3; Mark xiv. 37; Isa. x. 7; Psal. lviii. 3.
17. When beaten out of this by the Lord's mercy, and made to "rejoice in infirmities," that God may be exalted, seeing the wildness of pride under the pretence of quiet submission, and being led by the will of God, I have been tempted to resolve nothing at all, and so turned careless, running from one extreme to another, contrary to Philip, ii. 12, 13.
18. Through a desire to allow to every action a time wherein I should be so and so exercised, it hath come to pass that I have secretly resisted the Spirit drawing me to other duties and exercises, because I would not alter my intended method; and so lost the assistance of God's Spirit, Deut. i. 41; Numb. xiv. 39.
19. I have many times in prayer asked things not convenient to be then granted, and so have not been answered through asking amiss; as when I have sought as much grace as would serve me all my lifetime, James iv. 3; John iv. 15. "Give me that I thirst not again." Sometimes I have been seeking the removal of a trouble ere I have been rightly exercised under it, 2 Cor. xii. 8, sought great enlargements, and raptures, and sensible manifestations, sought mercies without pains; which the Lord not granting, because amiss, I have been discouraged from prayer through refusals.
20. When difficult duties have been pressed, as mourning, fasting, diligence, prayer under indispositions, bearing the cross, walking in the strait gate, I have been made to think that the end of that command was mostly to cross myself, and, therefore, did the duty ofttimes more as mine own prejudice and cross, rather than as commanded by God, and the mean to attain such an end, (hence heathens cut themselves, and Papists whip themselves,) for this did me ill; it engendered hard thoughts of God, and made me do duties heartlessly, as likewise without success, because I sought no more than the crossing of myself.
21. In not prizing or esteeming little mercies because common, and fear to rest in them; thus "despising the day of small things."
22. In not shunning little evils, fearing to be thereby tithing the anise and cummin.
23. Through a strong persuasion of an absolute decree in God, which yet I judge truth, and of God's sovereignty, and that" it is not of him that willeth or runneth, but of God that showeth mercy;" I have been thereby tempted to excuse my sins, to challenge God for double-dealing, have not noticed his invitations and expostulations, Rom. ix. 19, " Who hath resisted his will?" Not distinguished betwixt the nature of God, and free absolute decree of God, and operation of God; and that it is not the damnation of the wicked God ultimately and for itself intends, but the manifestation of his justice.
24. By "limiting of the Holy One of Israel;" by cutting out and prescribing to God a way of helping me; and when he hath not come in my way, as he will not, nor no reason he should, I could not imagine his coming a mercy, 2 Kings v. 11, in Naaman. Hence, Ihave proposed God's way with other Christians, and their exercises, as the way to the Spirit to deal with me; and not finding this, I have been discouraged, and disquieted, and unthankful, and " spent my labour and strength in vain," in gazing after that, and labouring to walk in a path the Lord was not willing to lead me. There is a sovereignty in leading of saints to glory. I have limited the Lord in his way, by portraying to myself, and conceiving such a grace, and under such a notion and form; so that if I had not that very form and notion of it I conceived, though I had it really, yet did I not think I had it. Oh, under what various terms doth the Lord express one thing, that folk might not restrict grace to one notion!
25. In striving against the outward acts of sin, and not considering the inward corruption of the heart; in "making clean the outside of the platter," but neglecting to cleanse it within; cutting the branches, and sparing the root, Matth. xxiii. 26, whereby I have made no profit in holiness, because the fountain hath not been cleansed.
26. Under the pretence of discretion, prudence, and patience, I have neglected the life and zeal of actions. I have reproved but darkly, in respect of prudence and discretion; I have not stressed myself in private means, under pretence of sobriety; have neglected to bring my heart to any sense of sin, under pretence of moderation. Oh, what ills lie disguised under moderation, sobriety, patience, and Christian liberty! We have a sinful patience.
27. By going on in duties in my own strength, without looking for divine assistance, which hath done me much evil. When I have gone on in the confidence of my own strength, the Lord hath plagued me for my presumption, as in Peter: when duties have been difficult, relying on and looking to mine own strength, I have been discouraged.
28. I have neglected the outward practice of repentance, under pretence that the Lord requires the heart; but we should serve the Lord both in body and in spirit. It is true, we should not rest in the outward, or mainly look thereunto, but should look to the heart mostly; yet should not the outward act be neglected.
29. By giving ear and credulously believing suggestions of sense concerning myself and interest, and concerning God, without examination. Credulity, and easiness to believe everything suggested or spoken in books, or written down there, hath prejudiced me much. Hanging my faith on men's belts, and not examining suggestions, doctrines, writings, through the line of reason and through Scripture, hath made me wander long in doubts and fears unsettlcdly; but since I have tried all things, and laid aside all books, and had recourse to the fountain, I have been much better.