Imágenes de páginas

ed still a dread of the conclusion in my mind ; and
ftill when I was sollicited to quit the Scriptures, I
returned, ' To whom shall I go to find the words of

eternal life?' 2. Upon a due observation of those
who were truly religious, I could not but look on
them (tho' their real worth I did not yet discern) as
the better part of mankind; and the Lord created a

dread in my foul of conclusions that imported the } charge of a lie in a matter of the greatest importance

against the better part of mankind : Psalm lxxiii. 15. ** If I should speak thus, I would offend against the er generation of thy children.' 3. The Lord opened

mine eyes to see the remarkable folly of those who abandoned revealed religion: Not to mention the impious lives of the generality, I saw the fobberer fort guilty of unaccountable folly. The scripture tells them plainly, That if they have a mind to be satisfied as to the truth of its pretensions, they must walk in the way of its precepts to find it: John vii. 17. ' If any man will do his Will, he shall know this

doctrine if it is of God, or if I speak of myself.' But they walk in a direct contradiction to its precepts, and yet complain of the want of evidence,“ , while they refuse to try that way wherein only it is to be found. Again, fome fobber and learned, and otherwise inquisitive persons own, That if we are either cut off from hopes, or left to uncertainty a bout a future state of happiness, we are miferable : And that they themselves are yet uncertain. While after all this has been by them confessed, and by some

to myself, I saw them either at little or no pains to to be satisfied : Prov. xiv. 6. “The scorner seeketh wir

dom and findeth it not;' yea, I found this sort of persons much more eager in searching after what

might strengthen their doubts,than what might fatifs $fy them : This smelled rank of a hatred of light.

Now I thought it was not safe to follow those whom
I saw so evidently foolish, and who did fo plainly
E 2


proclaim their own folly : Prov, xxvii. 5. ' Evil * men understand not judgment; But they that seek * the Lord understand all things.' This had that weight with me, that I now ceas'd to wonder that such were unsatisfied about the truth of religion, and that there was no ground of doubting its truth, because they are unsatisfied. 4. The shining evidence of the power of religion in the lives, but more efpecially in the deaths of the Martyrs, of whom I had formerly read oft, stay'd me as to this, That there is a reality in religion, when I was beat from all other holds : Heb. xi. 33. 'They were tortured, not ac* cepting deliverance, that they might obtain a bet

ter resurrection' Here I was behov'd to own the finger of God, especially when I considered their numbers, their quality, and all circumstances. 5. The known instances of the power of religion in children in their tender years, was of great use sometimes, and appeared of great weight : it check d the force of temptations that drove me to doubt of the reality of religion ; Psalm viii. 2. 'Thus out of the mouth of

babes and sucklings the Lord ordained strength, and ' in some measure stilled the enemy and the avenger.' 6. The sensible and violent opposition I found Satan making to the Scriptures in all the fore mentioned way, was oft staying and perswaded me in some measure, that there behov'd to be a reality in religion, and I could not see what could induce himn thus to oppofe it, if it were a cheat; Matth. xii. 26. Is Satan divided? 7. I got frequent touches in a way of conviction ; Heb. iv, 12. and thus finding the power and piercing virtue of the word making manifest

the fecerts of my heart, I was forced to fall down

and own God to be in it of a truth.' i Cor. xiv. 25. 8. Satan sometimes departed and left me for a leaJon ; Luke iv. 13. and then I had some intermission of my sore trouble. 9. I found a secret hope begot and cherished, I could not tell how; at some seafons,

[ocr errors]

even amidst the violence of temptations, that I should bę fatisfied, and that I should yet have good cause • to praise God;' Psalm xlii. 5,8,11, and that what I knew.nut now, I should know hereafter, John xiii, 7. which was Itrengthned by the consideration of what others had meet with, who had been trysted with temptations that were some way like mine : Alheit, I doubted, if ever in all respects any had been so molested, as I, and if there was any sorrow like unto • mine. Lam. i: 12. Yea, sometime I was made to hope that Satan's raging forboded that his time was but short. Rev. xii. 12.

12. As by these and the like means, the force of the temptation was somewhat broken, so I was encouraged to several things which I have reason to own God was kind to me, in holding me to them. 1. Here. by I was engaged to hold on in an attendance, with more concern in duties of religion, publick, private and fecret; and so to wait at wisdom's door-post, Prov. viii. 34. which afterwards I found the advantage of. 2. Hereby I was enabled to conceal all my own straits from others, who thereby might either have been stumbled or hardned in their evil way: I was unwilling others should know, any thing that might disgust them at religion: 2 Som, i. 22. Tell it not in Gath, left the daughters of the uncircum. cisei triumph. In converse with such as were shaken, i ftill endeavoured to stand for the truth, as if I had been under no doubt about it; and I must own, That: while I did so, the Lord often countenanced me, and satisfied me as to what I had formerly been disquieted about : How good a Master is God! A word Ipoken for him is not lost; nor will he suffer the Icast service to pass uprewarded: A Heathen Cyrus must have his bire; and so must Nebuchadnezzer. Ezek. xxix. 39. '

13. Before I leave this, I must observe some things which the Lord taught me by this exercise. 1. I £ 3


hereby learned the danger and vanity of reasoning with Satan: When I begun to answer him with my own reasonings, he had still great advantage ; 1 Pet. v.9. he easily evaded all my arguments, and easily repellid my answers, and enforc'd his suggestions ; James iv. 7. and when his suggestions were to be maintain’d in point of arguments, he injected them with that impudent violence that I was not able to stand against : Matth. iv. 10, 11, Our fafest course is to resist, and to hold at a distance, to avoid com. muning with him. Jude 9. 2, I must observe like. wise the wise providence of God; that the greatest difficulties that ly against religion are hid from A. theists. All the objections I meet with in their writings, were not near fo subtile, as those which were often suggested to me: The reason of it from the nature of the thing is obvious; such persons take not a nearhand view of religion ; and while persons stand at a distance, neither are the difficulties that attend it, nor the advantages of it decerned. Again, Satan finding all things quiet with them, keeps all so; and finding that they are easily ensnared, he uses not force : Luke xi. 21. It is where he is in danger of losing a person that he uses his utmost efforts; when Christ is ready to cast him out, then he rages and tears poor souls : Mark ix. 20. Besides the Lord in his infinite wisdom permits not all these hellish subtilities to be published, in tenderness to the faith of the weak, He that sets bounds to the raging of the sea, and lays, • Hitherto shalt thou come, and here shall thy proud is waves be stayed,' Job xxxviii. 11. keeps Satan under chains, and he cannot step beyond his permission. Rev. XX. I.

14. This exercise had fundry effects upon me, 1. The fears I was brought under fixed a deeper sense of my frailty in general on me, and that I was but a man : Psalm ix. 20. Put them in fear, that the natii ons may know themselves to be but men, Selah.' 2.


Hereby the Lord withheld me from my vain projections about learning Now I was so far from expecting, as some time I had done, that I feared I should fali short of what was absolutely needful to my own wellbeing : Ecclef. vii. 23. I said I will be wise,but it was far from me. 3. Whereas I was educate with an eye to the Ministry, and aimed that way; now I came to see the difficulty, and repent my rash intentions : and laid down a resolution to look no more that way, unless the Lord satisfied me full about those truths whereof I now doubted : I could not without hor. rour think of speaking to others what I believed not myself. 2 Cor. iv. 13. 4. My bondage through fear. of death was increased and grew stronger. Heb. ii. 15. 5. I was urged to somewhat more of clofsness in the performance of duty, tho' often I was urged to give it over as vain ; yet I still resolved to hold on there. 6. I was still more and more confirmed in the necessity of further evidence for the truth of reli. gion, than I either had attained, or knew how to attain.

15. All this while I was under sundry inconveni. encies that increased my trouble, and gave advantage to my corruptions. I. Most of the converse I had, was with such as helped forward my trouble. I was a companion of fools, and fo nigh to destruction. . For he that walks with the wife shall be wise, but ' a companion of fools shall be destroyed. Prov. xiii. 20. Again. 2, I had no friend to wliom I could with freedom and any prospect of fatisfaction, impart my mind. Ecclef. iv. 10. 'Wo to him that is

alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to

help him up. 3. Endeavours to conceal intirely my concern and trouble, broke me. When I kept ? silenice, my bones waxed old:' Psalm vxxii. 3. 4. I was laid aside from my studies, and had no diversion, nor could follow any; I had heart to nothing, could not read, unless that sometimes I read the Scriptures,

« AnteriorContinuar »