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THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE.
fr^llliitl SHALL reduce what I have met with to these eight
heads; (1.) What hath been the Lord's carriage to me
iM before I knew any thing of God, or had so much as
the form of religion. (2.) Some steps of God's providence while the Lord was drawing me to himself; or some preparation-work to my conversion, while my heart was not fully changed, but only had some appearance of godliness. (3.) Some things concerning my conversion, the time and manner; and what immediately followed. (4.) Of the sad and long decay that happened thereafter. (5.) Relate some things touching my recovery out of that decay. (6.) Some things that happened immediately after this recovery, for the space of four or five years. (7.) Some things relating to my present condition, and some things I have observed in my experience. (8.) Some particular mercies I have met with from the Lord at several occasions.
REVEREND JAMES FRASER OF BREA,
MDJISTEK OF THE GOSPEL AT CULROSS.
TOUCHING SOME THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO ME FROM MY BIRTH TILL I WAS NINE TEARS OLD.
WAS born in the North of Scotland in 1639, July 29th, and was not like to live, but the Lord healed me; for the evil humours broke out in boils great and numerous, so that I was very wholesome thereafter. My disposition was sullen, and I loved not to be dawtcd, nor to wear gaudy clothes; nor had I any wise tales like other children, so that I gave no occasion to my parents to repeat them, as parents usually do with fondness. For though my parents were fond enough of their children, yet my temper was so peevish that I was no dawty; only at school I learned well, though now and then I staid away.
§ 2. Even at this time I showed plainly that I had a will to do evil: for the seeds of wickedness did spring up, and appeared in many vicious cldldish tricks. By all which, the necessity of regeneration was evident, and that by nature we arc under the power of sin and Satan. "Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right," (Prov. xx. 11.) And these were all my preparations and dispositions for good.
§ 3. Yet the Lord was doing me good all the while. I overpass common mercies, and mention one that was very remarkable. My mother being obliged to come south, to be out of the way of a cruel enemy who prosecuted her, lived with a relation in a burgh-town on the coast-side. I was very unruly, and therefore kept under some awe and restraint from wandering abroad when I pleased; but this increased my desire to ramble the more. At a time I slipped out, unknown to any, to a garden, where was a deep well. When once I got out of doors, I ran as hard as ever I could, and, not taking heed where I went, I fell in a by-path, which carried me directly to the well before spoken of, open above, and overgrown with grass, which did hide the water from me: so that ere I knew, I fell over head in the well, the Welter being very deep, only my hands laid hold on the grass that did grow on the sides of the well. Here I continued for a good space, and would no doubt have drowned, if God had not sent some to my relief: for he that was appointed to wait on me, not knowing whither I went, the mere Providence of God led him out to seek mc in the garden; and when coming to the further end of it, and despairing to find me, went back with intention to seek me in the town, which, if be had done, I had perished for ever. But the Lord directing him in his backcoming to the well, he cast his eyes, and perceived a hand lying on the grass, which extremity had caused me to do, and, looking more narrowly, found it was I; and so addressing himself to my relief, with much ado pulled me out of the water, even ready to expire, and unable to help myself. And after the water was poured out of my mouth, and I had slept a while, 1 was as well as ever, through the wonderful goodness of God. Oh! that 1 may walk worthy of this kindness, and that I may be preserved to do him pleasure and service! This happened to me during my first appearance in the world.
RELATING SOME THINGS CONCERNING GOD'S DEALING WITH ME WHILE UNDER SOME COMMON WORK OP THE SPIRIT, AND NOT FULLY CONVERTED, FROM THE TIME I WAS NINE YEARS OLD TILL I WAS SEVENTEEN.
Ere I was really and fully converted, and drawn to God in Christ, I advanced four steps; and in every one of them I had undoubtedly rested, and so, missing of Christ, had undoubtedly perished, if I had not been beaten out of them. But the Lord seeing mc ready to rest in these, made them all to break under me, until at last he revealed his Son Jesus to my soul, whom to know is life eternal.
Was the getting some prayers by heart, and saying of them in a formal way morning and evening; so that now I was complete as I thought. The Lord was likewise then drawing my heart to what was good: for when I said my prayers morning and evening, and did not slight them, then had I very much peace and comfort of heart; and when I omitted them, I was vexed in my conscience. Sometimes for a while together I would omit seeking of God through sloth, and then would I be terrified with fearful dreams, the voice of which I thought was a rebuke for omitting of my prayers, and for a while thereafter I would be very zealous; and, when I did any kind of duty, I would not be troubled at all; and what evil soever came upon mc, I judged it to be for the omission of my duties, which I looked upon as my greatest sin. By these means, as the most meet and fit for mc then, did the Lord seek to cause me follow good, and to eschew evil.