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I durst not sleep, lest I had awakened in everlasting flames; and in this dreadful confusion, have prayed on my bed whole nights that God would avert the feared vengeance : “I cried to him out of the depths, and deep called to deep, at the noise of his waterspouts, and all his billows went over me,” yet I was never like to hear his loving-kindness in the morning, yet still I had my prayer to the God of my life, sometimes crying out, “My rock, why forgettest thou me so ? How long shall I go thus mourning by the oppression of the enemy? it is like a sword in my bones, whilst my foes upbraid me, and whilst the enemy says unto my soul, Where is thy God ? At another time crying out, “O send forth thy light and thy truth; let them be my guides, and then will I go to the altar of God-to God, my exceeding joy.” Sometimes I have said, “O my soul, why art thou cast down within me, and why thus disquieted in me?” but yet after all, I durst not venture to say to my distressed soul, “ Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Whilst thus I was in the fearful pit, and sinking in the miry clay, it pleased the kind God to devise means that his banished might be again brought home, and soon after did say, Deliver him from going down to the pit, for I have found a ransom; and my outgate from the pit, wherein was no water, was in the following manner.
The Presbytery had appointed our minister, Mr Crawford, to supply at Kirkmichael, which was then vacant: he had intimated to us that we were not to expect sermon that day. Accordingly, he studied for Kirkmichael, but a providence falling out on the Saturday prevented his going there, which made him send word to some near his own church, that he would preach at home, because he was insuperably obstructed from going to Kirkmichael. On the Sabbath, amidst my great distress, I went to the house of God, for I still loved the habitation of his house, “ the place where his honour dwells,” and there that day he sent his word, which afterwards healed my soul. The minister laid aside his ordinary for that day, and preached from the text he had studied for Kirkmichael, which was this, in the 42d Psalm, “ O my soul, why art
thou cast down ?” &c. I thought when he read his text, that he singled me out with his eye, and looked always my way; and, in a word, his whole sermon was suited to the several parts of my long and sharp exercise, so that I was amazed what to make of the providence. In the multitude of the thoughts that rolled within me, the enemy suggested, that if the minister had not "plowed with my heifer, he had not read my riddle,” and did insinuate that my wife had told the minister's wife my distress, and that she had told her husband, and therefore he had chosen the subject on purpose ; so the enemy suggested I was a fool to take comfort which came not from God, but only from man; on which I suspended my taking comfort, till I inquired at my wife if she had discovered my case to any; and from her I found she had never divulged it. This made me on the Monday go to Mr Crawford, and inquire how he came to choose that text that day. He answered, he always sought direction from God, in choosing what he was to preach on.
After which, the Lord shined on his word and providence, and said, as it were to the poor prisoner, Go forth, show yourself. The Lord began that day to knock off the fetters wherewith I had been long bound, and some time after more eminently shined upon my needy soul, at a time when my wife was nigh unto death, but wonderfully brought back from the gates of it. “Rejoice not thou over me, O mine enemy, though I fall I shall arise, though I walk in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me;” though he caused long grief, yet had he compassion, according to the multitudes of his tender mercies, and suffered not the enemy always to rejoice over me.
Some time thereafter Satan stood at my right hand to resist me, and charged me with all my sins and the aggravations of them, as also my plagues of heart, and inquired by his strong suggestion whether or not, I myself being judge, could I think that such sins and grace could dwell together; to which I readily replied, I thought they could not, upon which I razed the very foundation, and in a moment destroyed what I had been many years a building. My trouble however was so great, I was obliged to take my bed, being
grieved at the melancholy thoughts of my having deceived myself; so rude was I, and as a beast before him, that I could not in this dark hour live by faith ; it was indeed the hour and power of darkness : grieved was I, and loath to call all that ever I met with a delusion. Yet so strong was the tentation, I could not read my evidences for or title to his favour; all this not only made me take my bed, but threw me in a fever for some days, and then the enemy did sorely assault me, and assured me he would either dwell for ever in my heart, or deprive me of the exercise of my reason. Upon which I told my wife what the adversary had threatened, and desired that she would go out and cry to God in my behalf, and I would in the meantime entreat his appearing for me in such a strait, and disappoint my malicious enemy. Accordingly, she went out to prayer, and I cried to God on my bed, out of the depths, and heartily requested that Satan might neither be permitted to dwell in my heart nor distract my head. Dear Lord, said I, gather not my soul with sinners, for I cannot think of such a hellish guest. O Lord, I am thine, save thou me; enthrone thyself in my heart, and let not the enemy have entrance there. I have renounced the devil, and will never “ be led captive by him at his will;" he maintains that grace cannot dwell with my corruption, but thou knowest my sin is my burden. “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of sin and death ?” Lord, I long for victory over it, and that through the blood of the Lamb; therefore dwell there in my heart by thy Spirit of grace, that Satan may have no room therein. And, dear Lord, let not the enemy deprive me of reason, lest thy name be blasphemed among the wicked, lest the profane ridicule religion, and cry out, Take up the professor, he is now distracted, and all his religion has been only a notion in his brain. By many arguments I begged of God he would rebuke Satan, and plead the cause that was his own; on which the Lord that chose Jerusalem seemed to say, “Is not this a brand plucked out of the burning?" and charge was given to take away my filthy garments, and clothe me with changes of raiment, so the adversary was put to silence, and my wife came in smiling with the hopes of it, the Lord having enlarged her for me in prayer. I immediately was not only healed in spirit but in body, my fever was rebuked as well as the enemy, and I got up and put on my clothes, after I had lain some days in trouble both of body and mind, and thus got a new occasion of setting up my Ebenezer, owning that hitherto the Lord had helped.
Some time after this the enemy again pursued my soul, and charged me afresh with my sins, and maintained I was nothing but a hypocrite, and had best quit the way of religion, for the longer I continued my profession, I would increase my misery the more; this he much insisted on, but I being persuaded that in my spirit I allowed no guile, I assured the enemy I could not nor would not give up with the good way of God, for the Lord had all along shown me great kindness since ever I engaged in his way and service; I could not therefore so foolishly and ungratefully requite the Lord as now to turn my back upon him, I had found his yoke easy and his burden light, and none of his commandments were grievous to me. Besides, I was convinced that none was such a good master—to whom then should I go if I would turn my back on him, “who only had the words of eternal life ?" therefore, there was none in heaven or upon earth that I desired for a Lord and Master beside him.” Yea, I was sure that what advantage the enemy got over me now or at other times was because of my sins, and what might I yet expect would I so far transgress as wholly to quit God's way; therefore I assured the enemy that in God's way I would constantly go on in the strength of God the Lord, and would still make mention of his righteousness, and his only. A few days after I came to the sacrament at Kirkoswald. And on the Saturday as I came towards the tent, the adversary suggested that all my provocations and heart-plagues were written on my forehead, and that all the people were gazing at them; he so far prevailed as to make me sit down in haste and hide my face; however, the Lord set bounds to his rage against me till the solemnity was over; after which I had occasion to go to Galston on the Monday, and as I returned, the restless enemy made another assault; he averred that I had slain the great King's Son, and that I had stabbed him to the heart in Adam, and since pierced him by many actual transgressions, and therefore he would immediately hale me to prison ; on which I told him, “I would fly to the city of refuge;" he suggested that he would pursue me even there, and drag me from the very horns of the altar, that I might die the death of the murderer, having slain the great King's Son. Upon which he seemed to bring me to the city of refuge, where the Judge was then sitting, and craved sentence against me. The enemy appealed to two witnesses that I was guilty, namely, the Judge who was privy to all that ever I did, and my own conscience. These awful witnesses readily owned I was guilty of the charge, on which the accuser craved a speedy sentence, that he might be allowed to drag the criminal to prison : this made my trembling soul, with tears gushing out, supplicate the great Judge that I might be allowed the benefit of that Act of Grace made long ago, and firmly ratified in the Council of Peace, namely, Deut. iv. 42, “He that slays his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past, shall fly to the city of refuge and live.” I pleaded that such was the equity of the Judge, that even in the cause of his own dear Son, he would not, could not, act contrary to his own standing law, but would magnify the law, and thus make it honourable, how unworthy soever the accused criminal was. I appealed to the great Judge and the other witness Conscience, if it was not unawares that I had slain the King's Son, when I stabbed him in Adam, and that I hated him not for times past, though I had frequently pierced him, yet this was the grief of my soul, and was in bitterness for it more than for a first-born, yea, the two great witnesses knew, that the King's Son whom I have pierced is precious to my soul, and to his blood I flee for cleansing, and it speaks better things than the blood of Abel; and though I have sinned, I have an Advocate with the Father, who is the propitiation for my sin ; it is in the meritorious virtue of the blood and intercession of the Lamb slain that I confide, by the horns of this altar will I live and die. Therefore, O righteous Judge, before whom I stand, may I be justified freely