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Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners
AUTHOR: Bunyan, John
PUBLISHED ON: March 31, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN
TAGS: grace | redemption

PUBLISHER’S FOREWORD

John Bunyan was born at Elstow, near Bedford, England, sometime in the
fall of 1628, the first of three children born to Thomas and Margaret
Bunyan.  The parish register indicates that he was baptized on November
30, 1628.

In Grace Abounding Bunyan describes his descent as “of a low and
inconsiderable generation.”  He had particular disdain for his father’s
house; to him it was “of a rank that is meanest and most despised of all
the families in the land.”

Sir Walter Scott thought John Bunyan was of gypsy descent, because his
father was a traveling tinker, a mender of pots and pans.  But
historians view the occupation as somewhat like that of “village
blacksmith.”  The Bunyans were not homeless; they were landowners, but
of peasant stock.

Bunyan’s schooling was of brief duration, and it wasn’t long before he
was assisting his father and learning the trade himself.  On his
sixteenth birthday Bunyan joined Cromwell’s New Model Army, introducing
him to the Puritan movement.  After this military stint, he settled down
as a tinker (“brazier”) and married at the age of twenty.

In 1653 Bunyan joined the Puritan Free Church in Bedford, and in 1657 he
took on his first assignment as a “field preacher.”  At this time there
were scores of men, most with little education, who were preaching to
Nonconformist audiences throughout England.  With the restoration of
Charles II to the throne, these preachers were suspect and subject to
arrest.  Refusing to refrain from preaching, Bunyan was arrested in 1660
and imprisoned-for more than eleven years.

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, written during this
imprisonment, is the spiritual autobiography of Bunyan, the traveling
tinker who became the eminent preacher and author.  It is in the genre
of Augustine’s Confessions and Thomas a Kempis’s Imitation of Christ.
It is not a detailed account of Bunyan’s early life, for it tells us
very little of his youth, education, military experiences, and
marriages.

Written in 1666, Grace Abounding chronicles Bunyan’s spiritual journey
from a profane life filled with cursing, blasphemy, and Sabbath
desecration to a new creation in Christ Jesus.  Some commentators on
Bunyan’s life and work are of the opinion that Bunyan wrote too
disparagingly of his early life.  George Offor, editor of a three volume
compilation of Bunyan’s works, observes:

A great difference of opinion has been expressed by learned men as to
whether Bunyan’s account of himself is to be understood literally, as it
respects his bad conduct before his conversion.  or whether he views
himself through a glass, by which his evil habits are magnified.  No one
can doubt his perfect honesty.  He plainly narrates his bad, as well as
his redeeming qualities; nor does his narrative appear to be
exaggerated.1

Grace Abounding is an autobiography that begins with guilt and despair
and ends with a heart “full of comfort,” a thankful heart for “grace
abounding.”

Those who have read both Grace Abounding and The Pilgrim’s Progress will
realize that The Pilgrim’s Progress, in substantial measure, is the same
life as that described in Grace Abounding, but in allegory rather than
straightforward narrative.  George Offor makes this point when he quotes
a Dr.  Cheever:

As you read the “Grace Abounding”, you are ready to say at every step,
Here is the future author of the “Pilgrim’s Progress”. It is as if you
stood beside some great sculptor, and watched every movement of the
chisel, having seen his design; so that at every blow some new trait of
beauty in the future comes clearly into view.2

Ernest W. Bacon, in a recent biography based on the latest historical
research makes the same point:

The experiences he [Bunyan] records in Grace Abounding are seen in the
characters of The Pilgrim’s Progress, and there is little doubt that he
could not have written the great allegory had he not experienced God’s
saving mercy recounted in the autobiography.  It has an undying vitality
and perpetual youth about it, is a record of Puritan experience
unsurpassed, and a spiritual stimulus of great value.3

The importance of Grace Abounding is summed up by Hugh Martin:

Grace Abounding is among the greatest stories of God’s dealings with the
human soul-to be put on the shelf beside such treasures as Augustine’s
Confessions, Law’s Serious Call, Baxter’s Autobiography, and Wesley’s
account of his own spiritual travail.4

A PREFACE

OR BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE PUBLISHING OF THIS WORK

WRITTEN BY THE AUTHOR THEREOF, AND DEDICATED TO THOSE WHOM GOD
HATH
COUNTED HIM WORTHY TO BEGET TO FAITH, BY HIS MINISTRY IN THE WORD

CHILDREN, grace be with you, Amen.  I being taken from you in presence,
and so tied up, that I cannot perform that duty that from God doth lie
upon me to youward, for your further edifying and building up in faith
and holiness, etc., yet that you may see my soul hath fatherly care and
desire after your spiritual and everlasting welfare; I now once again,
as before, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, so now from the lions’
dens, from the mountains of the leopards (S.of Sol.  4.8), do look yet
after you all, greatly longing to see your safe arrival into the desired
haven.

I thank God upon every remembrance of you; and rejoice, even while I
stick between the teeth of the lions in the wilderness, at the grace,
and mercy, and knowledge of Christ our Saviour, which God hath bestowed
upon you, with abundance of faith and love.  Your hungerings and
thirstings also after further acquaintance with the Father, in His Son;
your tenderness of heart, your trembling at sin, your sober and holy
deportment also, before both God and men, is great refreshment to me;
‘For ye are my glory and joy’ (1 Thess.  2.20).

I have sent you here enclosed, a drop of that honey, that I have taken
out of the carcase of a lion ( Judg.  14.5-9). I have eaten thereof
myself also, and am much refreshed thereby.  (Temptations, when we meet
them at first, are as the lion that roared upon Samson; but if we
overcome them, the next time we see them, we shall find a nest of honey
within them.)  The Philistines understand me not.  It is something of a
relation of the work of God upon my own soul, even from the very first,
till now; wherein you may perceive my castings down, and raisings up;
for he woundeth, and his hands make whole.  It is written in the
Scripture ( Isa.  38.19), ‘The father to the children shall make known
the truth of God.’  Yea, it was for this reason I lay so long at Sinai (
Deut.  4.10, 11), to see the fire, and the cloud, and the darkness, that
I might fear the Lord all the days of my life upon earth, and tell of
his wondrous works to my children ( Ps.  78.3-5).

Moses ( Num.  33.1, 2) writ of the journeyings of the children of
Israel, from Egypt to the land of Canaan; and commanded also, that they
did remember their forty years’ travel in the wilderness.  ‘Thou shalt
remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years
in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was
in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no’ (
Deut.  8.2). Wherefore this I have endeavoured to do; and not only so,
but to publish it also; that, if God will, others may be put in
remembrance of what He hath done for their souls, by reading His work
upon me.

It is profitable for Christians to be often calling to mind the very
beginnings of grace with their souls.  ‘It is a night to be much
observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt:
this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of
Israel in their generations’ ( Ex.  12.42). ‘O my God,’ saith David (
Ps.  42.6), ‘my soul is cast down within me; therefore will I remember
thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill
Mizar.’  He remembered also the lion and the bear, when he went to fight
with the giant of Gath ( I Sam.  17.36, 37).

It was Paul’s accustomed manner ( Acts 22), and that when tried for his
life (Acts 24), ever to open, before his judges, the manner of his
conversion: he would think of that day, and that hour, in the which he
first did meet with grace; for he found it support unto him.  When God
had brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea, far into the
wilderness, yet they must turn quite about thither again, to remember
the drowning of their enemies there ( Num.14.25). For though they sang
His praise before, yet ‘they soon forgat his works’ ( Ps.  106.11-13).

In this discourse of mine you may see much; much, I say, of the grace of
God towards me.  I thank God I can count it much, for it was above my
sins and Satan’s temptations too.  I can remember my fears, and doubts,
and sad months with comfort; they are as the head of Goliath in my hand.
There was nothing to David like Goliath’s sword, even that sword that
should have been sheathed in his bowels; for the very sight and
remembrance of that did preach forth God’s deliverance to him.  Oh, the
remembrance of my great sins, of my great temptations, and of my great
fears of perishing for ever!  They bring afresh into my mind the
remembrance of my great help, my great support from heaven, and the
great grace that God extended to such a wretch as I.

My dear children, call to mind the former days, and the years of ancient
times: remember also your songs in the night; and commune with your own
heart ( Ps.  77.5-12). Yea, look diligently, and leave no corner therein
unsearched, for there is treasure hid, even the treasure of your first
and second experience of the grace of God toward you.  Remember, I say,
the word that first laid hold upon you; remember your terrors of
conscience, and fear of death and hell; remember also your tears and
prayers to God; yea, how you sighed under every hedge for mercy.  Have
you never a hill Mizar to remember?  Have you forgot the close, the milk
house, the stable, the barn, and the like, where God did visit your
soul?  Remember also the Word-the Word, I say, upon which the Lord hath
caused you to hope.  If you have sinned against light; if you are
tempted to blaspheme; if you are down in despair; if you think God
fights against you; or if heaven is hid from your eyes, remember it was
thus with your father, but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

I could have enlarged much in this my discourse, of my temptations and
troubles for sin; as also of the merciful kindness and working of God
with my soul.  I could also have stepped into a style much higher than
this in which I have here discoursed, and could have adorned all things
more than here I have seemed to do, but I dare not.  God did not play in
convincing of me, the devil did not play in tempting of me, neither did
I play when I sunk as into a bottomless pit, when the pangs of hell
caught hold upon me; wherefore I may not play in my relating of them,
but be plain and simple, and lay down the thing as it was.  He that
liketh it, let him receive it; and he that does not, let him produce a
better.  Farewell.

My dear children, the milk and honey is beyond this wilderness, God be
merciful to you, and grant that you be not slothful to go in to possess
the land.

JOHN BUNYAN

GRACE ABOUNDING

TO THE CHIEF OF SINNERS

OR, A BRIEF RELATION OF THE EXCEEDING MERCY OF GOD IN CHRIST, TO HIS
POOR SERVANT JOHN BUNYAN

1.  In this my relation of the merciful working of God upon my soul, it
will not be amiss, if, in the first place, I do, in a few words, give
you a hint of my pedigree, and manner of bringing up; that thereby the
goodness and bounty of God towards me, may be the more advanced and
magnified before the sons of men.

2.  For my descent then, it was, as is well known by many, of a low and
inconsiderable generation; my father’s house being of that rank that is
meanest and most despised of all the families in the land.  Wherefore I
have not here, as others, to boast of noble blood, or of a high-born
state, according to the flesh; though, all things considered, I magnify
the heavenly Majesty, for that by this door He brought me into this
world, to partake of the grace and life that is in Christ by the gospel.

3.  But yet, notwithstanding the meanness and inconsiderableness of my
parents, it pleased God to put it into their hearts to put me to school,
to learn both to read and write; the which I also attained, according to
the rate of other poor men’s children; though, to my shame I confess, I
did soon lose that little I learned, and that even almost utterly, and
that long before the Lord did work His gracious work of conversion upon
my soul.

4.  As for my own natural life, for the time that I was without God in
the world, it was indeed according to the course of this world, and ‘the
spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience’ (Eph.  2.2, 3).
It was my delight to be ‘taken captive by the devil at his will’ (II
Tim.  2.26). Being filled with all unrighteousness, the which did also
so strongly work and put forth itself, both in my heart and life, and
that from a child, that I had but few equals, especially considering my
years, which were tender, being few, both for cursing, swearing, lying,
and blaspheming the holy name of God.

5.  Yea, so settled and rooted was I in these things, that they became
as a second nature to me; the which, as I also have with soberness
considered since, did so offend the Lord, that even in my childhood He
did scare and affright me with fearful dreams, and did terrify me with
dreadful visions; for often, after I had spent this and the other day in
sin, I have in my bed been greatly afflicted, while asleep, with the
apprehensions of devils and wicked spirits, who still, as I then
thought, laboured to draw me away with them, of which I could never be
rid.

6.  Also I should, at these years, be greatly afflicted and troubled
with the thoughts of the day of judgment, and that both night and day,
and should tremble at the thoughts of the fearful torments of hell fire;
still fearing that it would be my lot to be found at last amongst those
devils and hellish fiends, who are there bound down with the chains and
bonds of eternal darkness, ‘unto the judgment of the great day.’

7.  These things, I say, when I was but a child but nine or ten years
old, did so distress my soul, that when in the midst of my many sports
and childish vanities, amidst my vain companions, I was often much cast
down and afflicted in my mind therewith, yet could I not let go my sins.
Yea, I was also then so overcome with despair of life and heaven, that I
should often wish either that there had been no hell, or that I had been
a devil-supposing they were only tormentors; that if it must needs be
that I went thither, I might be rather a tormentor, than be tormented
myself.

8.  A while after, these terrible dreams did leave me, which also I
soon forgot; for my pleasures did quickly cut off the remembrance of
them, as if they had never been: wherefore, with more greediness,
according to the strength of nature, I did still let loose the reins to
my lusts, and delighted in all transgression against the law of God: so
that, until I came to the state of marriage, I was the very ringleader
of all the youth that kept me company, into all manner of vice and
ungodliness.

9.  Yea, such prevalency had the lusts and fruits of the flesh in this
poor soul of mine, that had not a miracle of precious grace prevented, I
had not only perished by the stroke of eternal justice, but had also
laid myself open, even to the stroke of those laws, which bring some to
disgrace and open shame before the face of the world.

10.  In these days, the thoughts of religion were very grievous to me;
I could neither endure it myself, nor that any other should; so that,
when I have seen some read in those books that concerned Christian
piety, it would be as it were a prison to me.  Then I said unto God,
‘Depart from me, for I desire not the knowledge of thy ways’ (Job
21.14). I was now void of all good consideration, heaven and hell were
both out of sight and mind; and as for saving and damning, they were
least in my thoughts.  O Lord, thou knowest my life, and my ways were
not hid from Thee.

11.  Yet this I well remember, that though I could myself sin with the
greatest delight and ease, and also take pleasure in the vileness of my
companions; yet, even then, if I have at any time seen wicked things, by
those who professed goodness, it would make my spirit tremble.  As once,
above all the rest, when I was in my height of vanity, yet hearing one
to swear that was reckoned for a religious man, it had so great a stroke
upon my spirit, that it made my heart to ache.

12.  But God did not utterly leave me, but followed me still, not now
with convictions, but judgments; yet, such as were mixed with mercy.
For once I fell into a creek of the sea, and hardly escaped drowning.
Another time I fell out of a boat into Bedford river, but mercy yet
preserved me alive.  Besides, another time, being in the field with one
of my companions, it chanced that an adder passed over the highway; so
I, having a stick in my hand, struck her over the back; and having
stunned her, I forced open her mouth with my stick, and plucked her
sting out with my fingers, by which act, had not God been merciful, I
might, by my desperateness, have brought myself to mine end.

13.  This also have I taken notice of with thanksgiving; when I was a
soldier, I, with others, were drawn out to go to such a place to besiege
it; but when I was just ready to go, one of the company desired to go in
my room; to which, when I had consented, he took my place; and coming to
the siege, as he stood sentinel, he was shot into the head with a musket
bullet, and died.

14.  Here, as I said, were judgments and mercy, but neither of them did
awaken my soul to righteousness; wherefore I sinned still, and grew more
and more rebellious against God, and careless of mine own salvation.

15.  Presently after this, I changed my condition into a married state,
and my mercy was to light upon a wife whose father was counted godly.
This woman and I, though we came together as poor as poor might be, not
having so much household stuff as a dish or spoon betwixt us both, yet
this she had for her part, The Plain Man’s Pathway to Heaven, and The
Practice of Piety, which her father had left her when he died.  In these
two books I should sometimes read with her, wherein I also found some
things that were somewhat pleasing to me; but all this while I met with
no conviction.  She also would be often telling of me, what a godly man
her father was, and how he would reprove and correct vice, both in his
house, and amongst his neighbours; what a strict and holy life he lived
in his day, both in word and deed.

16.  Wherefore these books with this relation, though they did not
reach my heart, to awaken it about my sad and sinful state, yet they did
beget within me some desires to religion: so that, because I knew no
better, I fell in very eagerly with the religion of the times; to wit,
to go to church twice a day, and that too with the foremost; and there
should very devoutly, both say and sing as others did, yet retaining my
wicked life; but withal, I was so overrun with a spirit of superstition,
that I adored, and that with great devotion, even all things, both the
high place, priest, clerk, vestment, service, and what else belonging to
the church; counting all things holy that were therein contained, and
especially the priest and clerk most happy, and without doubt, greatly
blessed, because they were the servants, as I then thought, of God, and
were principal in the holy temple, to do His work therein.

17.  This conceit grew so strong in little time upon my spirit, that
had I but seen a priest, though never so sordid and debauched in his
life, I should find my spirit fall under him, reverence him, and knit
unto him: yea, I thought for the love I did bear unto them, supposing
they were the ministers of God, I could have lain down at their feet,
and have been trampled upon by them; their name, their garb, and work,
did so intoxicate and bewitch me.

18.  After I had been thus for some considerable time, another thought
came into my mind; and that was, whether we were of the Israelites, or
no?  For finding in the Scriptures that they were once the peculiar
people of God, thought I, if I were one of this race, my soul must needs
be happy.  Now again, I found within me a great longing to be resolved
about this question, but could not tell how I should.  At last I asked
my father of it; who told me, No, we were not.  Wherefore then I fell in
my spirit as to the hopes of that, and so remained.

19.  But all this while, I was not sensible of the danger and evil of
sin; I was kept from considering that sin would damn me, what religion
soever I followed, unless I was found in Christ.  Nay, I never thought
of Him, nor whether there was one, or no.  Thus man, while blind, doth
wander, but wearieth himself with vanity, for he knoweth not the way to
the city of God (Eccl.  10.15).

20.  But one day, amongst all the sermons our parson made, his subject
was, to treat of the Sabbath-day, and of the evil of breaking that,
either with labour, sports or otherwise.  Now I was, notwithstanding my
religion, one that took much delight in all manner of vice, and
especially that was the day that I did solace myself therewith,
wherefore I fell in my conscience under his sermon, thinking and
believing that he made that sermon on purpose to show me my evil doing;
and at that time I felt what guilt was, though never before, that I can
remember; but then I was, for the present, greatly loaden therewith, and
so went home when the sermon was ended, with a great burden upon my
spirit.

21.  This, for that instant, did benumb the sinews of my best delights,
and did imbitter my former pleasures to me; but behold, it lasted not,
for before I had well dined, the trouble began to go off my mind, and my
heart returned to his old course: but oh!  how glad was I, that this
trouble was gone from me, and that the fire was put out, that I might
sin again without control!  Wherefore, when I had satisfied nature with
my food, I shook the sermon out of my mind, and to my old custom of
sports and gaming I returned with great delight.

22.  But the same day, as I was in the midst of a game at cat, and
having struck it one blow from the hole, just as I was about to strike
it the second time, a voice did suddenly dart from heaven into my soul,
which said, Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to heaven, or have thy sins
and go to hell?  At this I was put to an exceeding maze; wherefore,
leaving my cat upon the ground, I looked up to heaven, and was as if I
had, with the eyes of my understanding, seen the Lord Jesus looking down
upon me, as being very hotly displeased with me, and as if He did
severely threaten me with some grievous punishment for these and other
my ungodly practices.

23.  I had no sooner thus conceived in my mind, but suddenly this
conclusion was fastened on my spirit, for the former hint did set my
sins again before my face, that I had been a great and grievous sinner,
and that it was now too late for me to look after heaven; for Christ
would not forgive me, nor pardon my transgressions.  Then I fell to
musing upon this also; and while I was thinking on it, and fearing lest
it should be so, I felt my heart sink in despair, concluding it was too
late; and therefore I resolved in my mind I would go on in sin; for,
thought I, if the case be thus, my state is surely miserable; miserable
if I leave my sins, and but miserable if I follow then; I can but be
damned, and if I must be so, I had as good be damned for many sins, as
to be damned for few.

24.  Thus I stood in the midst of my play, before all that then were
present; but yet I told them nothing: but I say, I having made this
conclusion, I returned desperately to my sport again; and I well
remember, that presently this kind of despair did so possess my soul,
that I was persuaded I could never attain to other comfort than what I
should get in sin; for heaven was gone already, so that on that I must
not think; wherefore I found within me a great desire to take my fill of
sin, still studying what sin was set to be committed, that I might taste
the sweetness of it; and I made as much haste as I could to fill my
belly with its delicates, lest I should die before I had my desire; for
that I feared greatly.  In these things, I protest before God, I lie
not, neither do I feign this sort of speech; these were really,
strongly, and with all my heart, my desires; the good Lord, whose mercy
is unsearchable, forgive me my transgressions .

25.  And I am very confident, that this temptation of the devil is more
than usual amongst poor creatures than many are aware of, even to
overrun their spirits with a scurvy and seared frame of heart, and
benumbing of conscience; which frame, he stilly and slily supplieth with
such despair, that though not much guilt attendeth the soul, yet they
continually have a secret conclusion within them, that there is no hopes
for them; for they have loved sons, ‘therefore after them they will go’
(Jer.  2.25; 18.12).

26.  Now therefore I went on in sin with great greediness of mind,
still grudging that I could not be so satisfied with it as I would.
This did continue with me about a month, or more; but one day, as I was
standing at a neighbour’s shop-window, and there cursing and swearing,
and playing the madman, after my wonted manner, there sat within the
woman of the house, and heard me, who, though she was a very loose and
ungodly wretch, yet protested that I swore and cursed at that most
fearful rate, that she was made to tremble to hear me; and told me
further, That I was the ungodliest fellow for swearing that ever she
heard in all her life; and that I, by thus doing, was able to spoil all
the youth in a whole town, if they came but in my company.

27.  At this reproof I was silenced, and put to secret shame, and that
too, as I thought, before the God of heaven; wherefore, while I stood
there, and hanging down my head.  I wished with all my heart that I
might be a little child again, that my father might learn me to speak
without this wicked way of swearing; for, thought I, I am so accustomed
to it, that it is in vain for me to think of a reformation, for I
thought it could never be.

28.  But how it came to pass, I know not; I did from this time forward
so leave my swearing, that it was a great wonder to myself to observe
it; and whereas before, I knew not how to speak unless I put an oath
before, and another behind, to make my words have authority; now, I
could, without it, speak better, and with more pleasantness, than ever I
could before.  All this while I knew not Jesus Christ, neither did I
leave my sports and plays.

29.  But quickly after this, I fell in company with one poor man that
made profession of religion; who, as I then thought, did talk pleasantly
of the Scriptures, and of the matters of religion; wherefore, falling
into some love and liking to what he said, I betook me to my Bible, and
began to take great pleasure in reading, but especially with the
historical part thereof; for, as for Paul’s epistles, and Scriptures of
that nature, I could not away with them, being as yet but ignorant,
either of the corruptions of my nature, or of the want and worth of
Jesus Christ to save me.

30.  Wherefore I fell to some outward reformation, both in my words and
life, and did set the commandments before me for my way to heaven; which
commandments I also did strive to keep, and, as I thought, did keep them
pretty well sometimes, and then I should have comfort; yet now and then
should break one, and so afflict my conscience; but then I should
repent, and say I was sorry for it, and promise God to do better next
time, and there get help again, for then I thought I pleased God as well
as any man in England.

31.  Thus I continued about a year; all which time our neighbours did
take me to be a very godly man, a new and religious man, and did marvel
much to see such a great and famous alteration in my life and manners;
and, indeed, so it was, though yet I knew not Christ, nor grace, nor
faith, nor hope; and truly, as I have well seen since, had I then died,
my state had been most fearful; well, this, I say, continued about a
twelvemonth or more.

32.  But, I say, my neighbours were amazed at this my great conversion,
from prodigious profaneness, to something like a moral life; and, truly,
so they well might; for this my conversion was as great, as for Tom of
Bedlam to become a sober man.  Now, therefore, they began to praise, to
commend, and to speak well of me, both to my face, and behind my back.
Now, I was, as they said, become godly; now, I was become a right honest
man.  But oh!  when I understood that these were their words and
opinions of me, it pleased me mighty well.  For though, as yet, I was
nothing but a poor painted hypocrite, yet I loved to be talked of as one
that was truly godly.  I was proud of my godliness, and, I did all I
did, either to be seen of, or to be well spoken of, by man.  And thus I
continued for about a twelvemonth or more.

33.  Now you must know, that before this I had taken much delight in
ringing, but my conscience beginning to be tender, I thought such
practice was but vain, and therefore forced myself to leave it, yet my
mind hankered; wherefore I should go to the steeple house, and look on
it, though I durst not ring.  But I thought this did not become religion
neither, yet I forced myself, and would look on still; but quickly
after, I began to think, How, if one of the bells should fall?  Then I
chose to stand under a main beam, that lay overthwart the steeple, from
side to side, thinking there I might stand sure, but then I should think
again, should the bell fall with a swing, it might first hit the wall,
and then rebounding upon me, might kill me for all this beam.  This made
me stand in the steeple door; and now, thought I, I am safe enough; for
if a bell should then fall, I can slip out behind these thick walls, and
so be preserved notwithstanding.

34.  So, after this, I would yet go to see them ring, but would not go
farther than the steeple door; but then it came into my head, How, if
the steeple itself should fall?  And this thought, it may fall for aught
I know, when I stood and looked on, did continually so shake my mind,
that I durst not stand at the steeple door any longer, but was forced to
flee, for fear the steeple should fall upon my head.

35.  Another thing was my dancing; I was a full year before I could
quite leave that; but all this while, when I thought I kept this or that
commandment, or did, by word or deed, anything that I thought was good,
I had great peace in my conscience; and should think with myself, God
cannot choose but be now pleased with me; yea, to relate it in mine own
way, I thought no man in England could please God better than I.

36.  But, poor wretch as I was, I was all this while ignorant of Jesus
Christ, and going about to establish my own righteousness; and had
perished therein, had not God, in mercy, showed me more of my state of
nature.

37.  But upon a day, the good providence of God did cast me to Bedford,
to work on my calling; and in one of the streets of that town, I came
where there were three or four poor women sitting at a door in the sun,
and talking about the things of God; and being now willing to hear them
discourse, I drew near to hear what they said, for I was now a brisk
talker also myself in the matters of religion, but now I may say, I
heard, but I understood not; for they were far above, out of my reach,
for their talk was about a new birth, the work of God on their hearts,
also how they were convinced of their miserable state by nature; they
talked how God had visited their souls with His love in the Lord Jesus,
and with what words and promises they had been refreshed, comforted, and
supported against the temptations of the devil.  Moreover, they reasoned
of the suggestions and temptations of Satan in particular; and told to
each other by which they had been afflicted, and how they were borne up
under his assaults.  They also discoursed of their own wretchedness of
heart, of their unbelief; and did contemn, slight, and abhor their own
righteousness, as filthy and insufficient to do them any good.

38.  And methought they spake as if joy did make them speak; they spake
with such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such appearance
of grace in all they said, that they were to me as if they had found a
new world, as if they were people that dwelt alone, and were not to be
reckoned among their neighbours (Num.  23.9).

39.  At this I felt my own heart began to shake, as mistrusting my
condition to be naught; for I saw that in all my thoughts about religion
and salvation, the new birth did never enter into my mind, neither knew
I the comfort of the Word and promise, nor the deceitfulness and
treachery of my own wicked heart.  As for secret thoughts, I took no
notice of them; neither did I understand what Satan’s temptations were,
nor how they were to be withstood and resisted, etc.

40.  Thus, therefore, when I had heard and considered what they said, I
left them, and went about my employment again, but their talk and
discourse went with me; also my heart would tarry with them, for I was
greatly affected with their words, both because by them I was convinced
that I wanted the true tokens of a truly godly man, and also because by
them I was convinced of the happy and blessed condition of him that was
such a one.

41.  Therefore I should often make it my business to be going again and
again into the company of these poor people, for I could not stay away;
and the more I went amongst them, the more I did question my condition;
and as I still do remember, presently I found two things within me, at
which I did sometimes marvel, especially considering what a blind,
ignorant, sordid, and ungodly wretch but just before I was; the one was
a great softness and tenderness of heart, which caused me to fall under
the conviction of what by Scripture they asserted; and the other was a
great bending in my mind to a continual meditating on it, and on all
other good things which at any time I heard or read of.

42.  By these things my mind was now so turned, that it lay like a
horse leech at the vein, still crying out, Give, give (Prov.  30.15);
yea, it was so fixed on eternity, and on the things about the kingdom of
heaven, that is, so far as I knew, though as yet, God knows, I knew but
little; that neither pleasures nor profits, nor persuasions, nor
threats, could loosen it, or make it let go his hold; and though I may
speak it with shame, yet it is in very deed a certain truth, it would
then have been as difficult for me to have taken my mind from heaven to
earth, as I have found it often since to get it again from earth to
heaven.

43.  One thing I may not omit: There was a young man in our town, to
whom my heart was knit more than to any other, but he being a most
wicked creature for cursing, and swearing, and whoring, I now shook him
off, and forsook his company: but about a quarter of a year after I had
left him, I met him in a certain lane, and asked him how he did; he,
after his old swearing and mad way, answered, he was well.  But, Harry,
said I, why do you swear and curse thus?  What will become of you, if
you die in this condition?  He answered me in a great chafe, What would
the devil do for company, if it were not for such as I am?

44.  About this time I met with some Ranters’ books, that were put
forth by some of our countrymen, which books were also highly in esteem
by several old professors; some of these I read, but was not able to
make a judgment about them; wherefore as I read in them, and thought
upon them, feeling myself unable to judge, I should betake myself to
hearty prayer in this manner: O Lord, I am a fool, and not able to know
the truth from error: Lord, leave me not to my own blindness, either to
approve of, or condemn this doctrine; if it be of God, let me not
despise it; if it be of the devil, let me not embrace it.  Lord, I lay
my soul, in this matter, only at Thy foot; let me not be deceived, I
humbly beseech Thee.  I had one religious intimate companion all this
while, and that was the poor man that I spoke of before; but about this
time he also turned a most devilish Ranter, and gave himself up to all
manner of filthiness, especially uncleanness; he would also deny that
there was a God, angel, or spirit; and would laugh at all exhortations
to sobriety.  When I laboured to rebuke his wickedness, he would laugh
the more, and pretend that he had gone through all religions, and could
never light on the right till now.  He told me also, that in a little
time we should see all professors turn to the ways of the Ranters.
Wherefore, abominating those cursed principles, I left his company
forthwith, and became to him as great a stranger, as I had been before a
familiar.

45.  Neither was this man only a temptation to me; but my calling lying
in the country, I happened to light into several people’s company, who,
though strict in religion formerly, yet were also swept away by these
Ranters.  These would also talk with me of their ways, and condemn me as
legal and dark; pretending that they had only attained to perfection
that could do what they would, and not sin.  Oh!  these temptations were
suitable to my flesh, I being but a young man, and my nature in its
prime; but God, who had, I hope, designed me for better things, kept me
in the fear of His name, and did not suffer me to accept of such
principles.  And blessed be God, who put it into my heart to cry to Him
to be kept and directed, still distrusting mine own wisdom; for I have
since seen even the effect of that prayer, in His preserving me not only
from ranting errors, but from those also that have sprung up since.  The
Bible was precious to me in those days.

46.  And now, methought, I began to look into the Bible with new eyes,
and read as I never did before; and especially the epistles of the
apostle Paul were sweet and pleasant to me; and, indeed, I was then
never out of the Bible, either by reading or meditation; still crying
out to God, that I might know the truth, and way to heaven and glory.

47.  And as I went on and read, I lighted on that passage, ‘To one is
given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge
by the same Spirit; and to another faith,’ etc.  (1 Cor.  12.8, 9). And
though, as I have since seen, that by this Scripture the Holy Ghost
intends, in special, things extraordinary, yet on me it did then fasten
with conviction, that I did want things ordinary, even that
understanding and wisdom that other Christians had.  On this word I
mused, and could not tell what to do, especially this word faith put me
to it, for I could not help it, but sometimes must question, whether I
had any faith or no; for I feared that it shut me out of all the
blessings that other good people had given them of God; but I was loath
to conclude I had no faith in my soul; for if I do so, thought I, then I
shall count myself a very castaway indeed.

48.  No, said I with myself, though I am convinced that I am an
ignorant sot, and that I want those blessed gifts of knowledge and
understanding that other good people have; yet, at a venture, I will
conclude I am not altogether faithless, though I know not what faith is.
For it was showed me, and that too, as I have since seen, by Satan, that
those who conclude themselves in a faithless state, have neither rest
nor quiet in their souls; and I was loath to fall quite into despair.

49.  Wherefore, by this suggestion, I was for a while made afraid to
see my want of faith; but God would not suffer me thus to undo and
destroy my soul, but did continually, against this my blind and sad
conclusion, create still within me such suppositions, insomuch that I
might in this deceive myself, that I could not rest content, until I did
now come to some certain knowledge, whether I had faith or no; this
always running in my mind, But how if you want faith indeed?  But how
can you tell if you have faith?  And, besides, I saw for certain, if I
had not, I was sure to perish for ever.

50.  So that though I endeavoured at the first to look over the
business of faith, yet in a little time, I better considering the
matter, was willing to put myself upon the trial, whether I had faith or
no.  But alas, poor wretch, so ignorant and brutish was I, that I knew
to this day no more how to do it, than I know how to begin and
accomplish that rare and curious piece of art which I never yet saw nor
considered.

51.  Wherefore, while I was thus considering, and being put to my
plunge about it, for you must know, that as yet I had in this matter
broken my mind to no man, only did hear and consider, the tempter came
in with his delusion, That there was no way for me to know I had faith,
but by trying to work some miracle: urging those Scriptures that seem to
look that way, for the enforcing and strengthening his temptation.  Nay,
one day as I was betwixt Elstow and Bedford, the temptation was hot upon
me to try if I had faith, by doing of some miracle: which miracle at
that time was this, I must say to the puddles that were in the horse
pads, Be dry; and to the dry places, Be you the puddles.  And truly, one
time I was a-going to say so indeed; but just as I was about to speak,
this thought came into my mind, But go under yonder hedge and pray
first, that God would make you able.  But when I had concluded to pray,
this came hot upon me, That if I prayed, and came again and tried to do
it, and yet did nothing notwithstanding, then be sure I had no faith,
but was a castaway and lost.  Nay, thought I, if it be so, I will never
try yet, but will stay a little longer.

52.  So I continued at a great loss; for I thought, if they only had
faith, which could do so wonderful things, then I concluded that, for
the present, I neither had it, nor yet, for time to come, were ever like
to have it.  Thus I was tossed between the devil and my own ignorance,
and so perplexed, especially at some times, that I could not tell what
to do.

53.  About this time, the state and happiness of these poor people at
Bedford was thus, in a dream or vision, represented to me.  I saw, as if
they were set on the sunny side of some high mountain, there refreshing
themselves with the pleasant beams of the sun, while I was shivering and
shrinking in the cold, afflicted with frost, snow, and dark clouds.
Methought, also, betwixt me and them, I saw a wall that did compass
about this mountain; now, through this wall my soul did greatly desire
to pass; concluding, that if I could, I would go even into the very
midst of them, and there also comfort myself with the heat of their sun.

54.  About this wall I thought myself, to go again and again, still
prying as I went, to see if I could find some way or passage, by which I
might enter therein; but none could I find for some time.  At the last,
I saw, as it were, a narrow gap, like a little doorway in the wall,
through which I attempted to pass; but the passage being very strait and
narrow, I made many efforts to get in, but all in vain, even until I was
well-nigh quite beat out, by striving to get in; at last, with great
striving, methought I at first did get in my head, and after that, by a
sidling striving, my shoulders, and my whole body; then I was exceeding
glad, and went and sat down in the midst of them, and so was comforted
with the light and heat of their sun.

55.  Now, this mountain and wall, etc., was thus made out to me-the
mountain signified the church of the living God; the sun that shone
thereon, the comfortable shining of His merciful face on them that were
therein; the wall, I thought, was the Word, that did make separation
between the Christians and the world; and the gap which was in this
wall, I thought, was Jesus Christ, who is the way to God the Father
(John 14.6; Matt.  7.14). But forasmuch as the passage was wonderful
narrow, even so narrow, that I could not, but with great difficulty,
enter in thereat, it showed me that none could enter into life, but
those that were in downright earnest, and unless they left this wicked
world behind them; for here was only room for body and soul, but not for
body and soul, and sin.

56.  This resemblance abode upon my spirit many days; all which time I
saw myself in a forlorn and sad condition, but yet was provoked to a
vehement hunger and desire to be one of that number that did sit in the
sunshine.  Now also I should pray wherever I was, whether at home or
abroad, in house or field, and should also often, with lifting up of
heart, sing that of the 51st Psalm, ‘O Lord, consider my distress’; for
as yet I knew not where I was.

57.  Neither as yet could I attain to any comfortable persuasion that I
had faith in Christ; but instead of having satisfaction, here I began to
find my soul to be assaulted with fresh doubts about my future
happiness; especially with such as these, Whether I was elected?  But
how, if the day of grace should now be past and gone?

58.  By these two temptations I was very much afflicted and disquieted;
sometimes by one, and sometimes by the other of them.  And first, to
speak of that about my questioning my election, I found at this time,
that though I was in a flame to find the way to heaven and glory, and
though nothing could beat me off from this, yet this question did so
offend and discourage me, that I was, especially at some times, as if
the very strength of my body also had been taken away by the force and
power thereof.  This scripture did also seem to me to trample upon all
my desires, ‘It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but
of God that sheweth mercy’ (Rom.  9.16).

59.  With this scripture I could not tell what to do; for I evidently
saw, that unless the great God, of His infinite grace and bounty, had
voluntarily chosen me to be a vessel of mercy, though I should desire,
and long and labour until my heart did break, no good could come of it.
Therefore, this would still stick with me, How can you tell that you are
elected?  And what if you should not?  How then?

60.  0 Lord, thought I, what if I should not, indeed?  It may be you
are not, said the tempter; it may be so, indeed, thought I. Why, then,
said Satan, you had as good leave off, and strive no further; for if,
indeed, you should not be elected and chosen of God, there is no talk of
your being saved; ‘For it is neither of him that willeth, nor of him
that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.’

61.  By these things I was driven to my wits’ end, not knowing what to
say, or how to answer these temptations.  Indeed, I little thought that
Satan had thus assaulted me, but that rather it was my own prudence,
thus to start the question; for, that the elect only attained eternal
life, that I, without scruple, did heartily close withal; but that
myself was one of them, there lay all the question.

62.  Thus, therefore, for several days, I was greatly assaulted and
perplexed, and was often, when I have been walking, ready to sink where
I went, with faintness in my mind; but one day, after I had been so many
weeks oppressed and cast down therewith, as I was now quite giving up
the ghost of all my hopes of ever attaining life, that sentence fell
with weight upon my spirit, ‘Look at the generations of old and see; did
ever any trust in the Lord, and was confounded?’

63.  At which I was greatly lightened and encouraged in my soul; for
thus, at that very instant, it was expounded to me, Begin at the
beginning of Genesis, and read to the end of the Revelations, and see if
you can find that there was ever any that trusted in the Lord, and was
confounded.  So, coming home, I presently went to my Bible to see if I
could find that saying, not doubting but to find it presently; for it
was so fresh, and with such strength and comfort on my spirit, that I
was as if it talked with me.

64.  Well, I looked, but I found it not; only it abode upon me; then I
did ask first this good man, and then another, if they knew where it
was, but they knew no such place.  At this I wondered that such a
sentence should so suddenly, and with such comfort and strength, seize
and abide upon my heart, and yet that none could find it, for I doubted
not but it was in holy Scripture.

65.  Thus I continued above a year, and could not find the place; but
at last, casting my eye into the Apocrypha books, I found it in
Ecclesiasticus 2.10.  This, at the first, did somewhat daunt me; but
because, by this time, I had got more experience of the love and
kindness of God, it troubled me the less; especially when I considered,
that though it was not in those texts that we call holy and canonical,
yet forasmuch as this sentence was the sum and substance of many of the
promises, it was my duty to take the comfort of it; and I bless God for
that word, for it was of God to me: that word doth still, at times,
shine before my face.

66.  After this, that other doubt did come with strength upon me, But
how if the day of grace should be past and gone?  How if you have
overstood the time of mercy?  Now, I remember that one day, as I was
walking into the country, I was much in the thoughts of this, But how if
the day of grace be past?  And to aggravate my trouble, the tempter
presented to my mind those good people of Bedford, and suggested thus
unto me, That these being converted already, they were all that God
would save in those parts; and that I came too late, for these had got
the blessing before I came.

67.  Now was I in great distress, thinking in very deed that this might
well be so; wherefore I went up and down bemoaning my sad condition,
counting myself far worse than a thousand fools, for standing off thus
long, and spending so many years in sin as I had done; still crying out,
Oh, that I had turned sooner!  Oh, that I had turned seven years ago!
It made me also angry with myself, to think that I should have no more
wit, but to trifle away my time till my soul and heaven were lost.

68.  But when I had been long vexed with this fear, and was scarce able
to take one step more, just about the same place where I received my
other encouragement, these words broke in upon my mind, ‘Compel them to
come in, that my house may be filled’; ‘and yet there is room’ (Luke
14.22, 23). These words, but especially them, ‘And yet there is room’,
were sweet words to me; for, truly, I thought that by them I saw there
was place enough in heaven for me; and, moreover, that when the Lord
Jesus did speak these words, He then did think of me; and that He,
knowing that the time would come that I should be afflicted with fear
that there was no place left for me in His bosom, did before speak this
word, and leave it upon record, that I might find help thereby against
this vile temptation.  This, I then verily believed.

69.  In the light and encouragement of this word, I went a pretty
while; and the comfort was the more, when I thought that the Lord Jesus
should think on me so long ago, and that He should speak those words on
purpose for my sake; for I did then think, verily, that He did on
purpose speak them, to encourage me withal.

70.  But I was not without my temptations to go back again;
temptations, I say, both from Satan, mine own heart, and carnal
acquaintance; but I thank God these were outweighed by that sound sense
of death and of the day of judgment, which abode, as it were,
continually in my view; I should often also think on Nebuchadnezzar, of
whom it is said, He had given him all the kingdoms of the earth (Dan.
5.19). Yet, I thought, if this great man had all his portion in this
world, one hour in hell fire would make him forget all.  Which
consideration was a great help to me.

71.  I was almost made, about this time, to see something concerning
the beasts that Moses counted clean and unclean.  I thought those beasts
were types of men; the clean, types of them that were the people of God;
but the unclean, types of such as were the children of the wicked one.
Now, I read that the clean beasts chewed the cud; that is, thought I,
they show us we must feed upon the Word of God.  They also parted the
hoof; I thought that signified we must part, if we would be saved, with
the ways of ungodly men.  And also, in further reading about them I
found that though we did chew the cud as the hare, yet if we walked with
claws like a dog, or if we did part the hoof like the swine, yet if we
did not chew the cud as the sheep, we were still, for all that, but
unclean; for I thought the hare to be a type of those that talk of the
Word, yet walk in the ways of sin; and that the swine was like him that
parted with his outward pollutions, but still wanteth the Word of faith,
without which there could be no way of salvation, let a man be never so
devout (Deut.14). After this I found, by reading the Word, that those
that must be glorified with Christ in another world must be called by
Him here; called to the partaking of a share in His Word and
righteousness, and to the comforts and first fruits of His Spirit, and
to a peculiar interest in all those heavenly things which do indeed fore
fit the soul for that rest and house of glory which is in heaven above.

72.  Here, again, I was at a very great stand, not knowing what to do,
fearing I was not called; for, thought I, if I be not called, what then
can do me good?  None but those who are effectually called, inherit the
kingdom of heaven.  But oh!  how I now loved those words that spake of a
Christian’s calling!  as when the Lord said to one, ‘Follow me’, and to
another, ‘Come after me’. And oh!  thought I, that He would say so to me
too, how gladly would I run after him!

73.  I cannot now express with what longings and breakings in my soul I
cried to Christ to call me.  Thus I continued for a time, all on a flame
to be converted to Jesus Christ; and did also see at that day, such
glory in a converted state, that I could not be contented without a
share therein.  Gold!  could it have been gotten for gold, what could I
have given for it!  had I a whole world it had all gone ten thousand
times over for this, that my soul might have been in a converted state.

74.  How lovely now was everyone in my eyes that I thought to be
converted men and women!  they shone, they walked like a people that
carried the broad seal of heaven about them.  Oh!  I saw the lot was
fallen to them in pleasant places, and they had a goodly heritage (Ps.
16.6). But that which made me sick was that of Christ, in Mark, He went
up into a mountain and called to Him whom He would, and they came unto
Him (Mark 3.13).

75.  This scripture made me faint and fear, yet it kindled fire in my
soul.  That which made me fear was this, lest Christ should have no
liking to me, for He called ‘whom he would’. But oh!  the glory that I
saw in that condition did still so engage my heart that I could seldom
read of any that Christ did call but I presently wished, Would I had
been in their clothes; would I had been born Peter; would I had been
born John; or would I had been by and had heard Him when He called them,
how would I have cried, O Lord, call me also.  But oh!  I feared He
would not call me.

76.  And truly the Lord let me go thus many months together and showed
me nothing; either that I was already, or should be called hereafter.
But at last, after much time spent, and many groans to God, that I might
be made partaker of the holy and heavenly calling, that Word came in
upon me: ‘I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the
Lord dwelleth in Zion’ (Joel 3.21). These words I thought were sent to
encourage me to wait still upon God, and signified unto me, that if I
were not already, yet time might come, I might be in truth converted to
Christ.

77.  About this time I began to break my mind to those poor people in
Bedford, and to tell them my condition, which, when they had heard, they
told Mr.  Gifford of me, who himself also took occasion to talk with me,
and was willing to be well persuaded of me, though I think but from
little grounds: but he invited me to his house, where I should hear him
confer with others, about the dealings of God with the soul; from all
which I still received more conviction, and from that time began to see
something of the vanity and inward wretchedness of my wicked heart, for
as yet I knew no great matter therein; but now it began to be discovered
unto me, and also to work at that rate for wickedness as it never did
before.  Now I evidently found that lusts and corruptions would strongly
put forth themselves within me, in wicked thoughts and desires, which I
did not regard before; my desires for heaven and life began to fail.  I
found also, that whereas my soul was full of longing after God, now my
heart began to hanker after every foolish vanity; yea, my heart would
not be moved to mind that that was good; it began to be careless, both
of my soul and heaven; it would now continually hang back, both to, and
in every duty; and was as a clog on the leg of a bird to hinder her from
flying.

78.  Nay, thought I, now I grow worse and worse; now am I farther from
conversion than ever I was before.  Wherefore I began to sink greatly in
my soul, and began to entertain such discouragement in my heart as laid
me low as hell.  If now I should have burned at a stake, I could not
believe that Christ had love for me; alas, I could neither hear Him, nor
see Him, nor feel Him, nor savour any of His things; I was driven as
with a tempest, my heart would be unclean, the Canaanites would dwell in
the land.

79.  Sometimes I would tell my condition to the people of God, which,
when they heard, they would pity me, and would tell me of the promises;
but they had as good have told me that I must reach the sun with my
finger as have bidden me receive or rely upon the promise; and as soon
as I should have done it, all my sense and feeling was against me; and I
saw I had a heart that would sin, and that lay under a law that would
condemn.

80.  These things have often made me think of that child which the
father brought to Christ, who, while he was yet a-coming to him, was
thrown down by the devil, and also so rent and torn by him that he lay
and wallowed, foaming (Luke 9.42, Mark 9.20).

81.  Further, in these days I should find my heart to shut itself up
against the Lord, and against His holy Word.  I have found my unbelief
to set, as it were, the shoulder to the door to keep Him out, and that
too even then, when I have with many a bitter sigh cried, Good Lord,
break it open; Lord, break these gates of brass, and cut these bars of
iron asunder (Ps.  107.16). Yet that word would sometimes create in my
heart a peaceable pause, ‘I girded thee, though thou hast not known me’
(Isa.  45.5).

82.  But all this while as to the act of sinning, I never was more
tender than now; I durst not take a pin or a stick, though but so big as
a straw, for my conscience now was sore, and would smart at every touch;
I could not now tell how to speak my words, for fear I should misplace
them.  Oh, how gingerly did I then go in all I did or said!  I found
myself as on a miry bog that shook if I did but stir; and was there left
both of God and Christ, and the Spirit, and all good things.

83.  But, I observe, though I was such a great sinner before
conversion, yet God never much charged the guilt of the sins of my
ignorance upon me; only He showed me I was lost if I had not Christ,
because I had been a sinner; I saw that I wanted a perfect righteousness
to present me without fault before God, and this righteousness was
nowhere to be found, but in the person of Jesus Christ.

84.  But my original and inward pollution, that, that was my plague and
my affliction; that, I say, at a dreadful rate, always putting forth
itself within me; that I had the guilt of, to amazement; by reason of
that, I was more loathsome in my own eyes than was a toad; and I thought
I was so in God’s eyes too; sin and corruption, I said, would as
naturally bubble out of my heart, as water would bubble out of a
fountain.  I thought now that everyone had a better heart than I had; I
could have changed heart with anybody; I thought none but the devil
himself could equalize me for inward wickedness and pollution of mind.
I fell, therefore, at the sight of my own vileness, deeply into despair;
for I concluded that this condition that I was in could not stand with a
state of grace.  Sure, thought I, I am forsaken of God; sure I am given
up to the devil, and to a reprobate mind; and thus I continued a long
while, even for some years together.

85.  While I was thus afflicted with the fears of my own damnation,
there were two things would make me wonder; the one was, when I saw old
people hunting after the things of this life, as if they should live
here always; the other was, when I found professors much distressed and
cast down, when they met with outward losses, as of husband, wife,
child, etc.  Lord, thought I, what ado is here about such little things
as these!  What seeking after carnal things by some, and what grief in
others for the loss of them!  If they so much labour after, and spend so
many tears for the things of this present life, how am I to be bemoaned,
pitied, and prayed for!  My soul is dying, my soul is damning.  Were my
soul but in a good condition, and were I but sure of it, oh!  how rich I
should esteem myself, though blessed but with bread and water; I should
count those but small afflictions, and should bear them as little
burdens.  ‘A wounded spirit who can bear?’

86.  And though I was thus troubled, and tossed, and afflicted, with
the sight and sense and terror of my own wickedness, yet I was afraid to
let this sight and sense go quite off my mind; for I found that, unless
guilt of conscience was taken off the right way, that is, by the blood
of Christ, a man grew rather worse for the loss of his trouble of mind,
than better.  Wherefore, if my guilt lay hard upon me, then I should cry
that the blood of Christ might take it off; and if it was going off
without it (for the sense of sin would be sometimes as if it would die,
and go quite away), then I would also strive to fetch it upon my heart
again, by bringing the punishment for sin in hell fire upon my spirits;
and should cry, Lord, let it not go off my heart, but the right way, but
by the blood of Christ, and by the application of Thy mercy, through
Him, to my soul; for that scripture lay much upon me, ‘without shedding
of blood is no remission’ (Heb.  9.22). And that which made me the more
afraid of this was, because I had seen some who, though when they were
under wounds of conscience, then they would cry and pray; but they
seeking rather present ease from their trouble, than pardon for their
sin, cared not how they lost their guilt, so they got it out of their
mind; and, therefore, having got it off the wrong way, it was not
sanctified unto them; but they grew harder and blinder, and more wicked
after their trouble.  This made me afraid, and made me cry to God the
more, that it might not be so with me.

87.  And now was I sorry that God had made me a man, for I feared I was
a reprobate; I counted man as unconverted, the most doleful of all the
creatures.  Thus being afflicted and tossed about my sad condition, I
counted myself alone, and above the most of men unblessed.

88.  Yea, I thought it impossible that ever I should attain to so much
goodness of heart, as to thank God that He had made me a man.  Man
indeed is the most noble by creation, of all creatures in the visible
world; but by sin he has made himself the most ignoble.  The beasts,
birds, fishes, etc., I blessed their condition, for they had not a
sinful nature, they were not obnoxious in the sight of God; they were
not to go to hell fire after death; I could therefore have rejoiced had
my condition been as any of theirs.

89.  In this condition I went a great while; but when comforting time
was come, I heard one preach a sermon upon those words in the Song 4.1,
‘Behold thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair.’  But at that
time he made these two words, ‘My love’, his chief and subject matter;
from which, after he had a little opened the text, he observed these
several conclusions: 1.  That the Church, and so every saved soul, is
Christ’s love, when loveless.  2.  Christ’s love without a cause.  3.
Christ’s love when hated of the world.  4.  Christ’s love when under
temptation, and under desertion.  5.  Christ’s love from first to last.

90.  But I got nothing by what he said at present, only when he came to
the application of the fourth particular, this was the word he said: If
it be so, that the saved soul is Christ’s love when under temptation and
desertion; then, poor tempted soul, when thou art assaulted and
afflicted with temptation, and the hidings of God’s face, yet think on
these two words, ‘My love’, still.

91.  So as I was a-going home, these words came again into my thoughts;
and I well remember, as I came in, I said thus in my heart, What shall I
get by thinking on these two words?  This thought had no sooner passed
through my heart, but the words began thus to kindle in my spirit, ‘Thou
art my love, thou art my love’, twenty times together; and still as they
ran thus in my mind, they waxed stronger and warmer, and began to make
me look up; but being as yet between hope and fear, I still replied in
my heart, But is it true, but is it true?  At which, that sentence fell
in upon me, he ‘wist not that it was true which was done by the angel’
(Acts 12.9).

92.  Then I began to give place to the word, which, with power, did
over and over make this joyful sound within my soul, Thou art my love,
thou art my love; and nothing shall separate thee from my love; and with
that, Rom 8.39 came into my mind.  Now was my heart filled full of
comfort and hope, and now I could believe that my sins should be
forgiven me; yea, I was now so taken with the love and mercy of God,
that I remember I could not tell how to contain till I got home; I
thought I could have spoken of His love, and of His mercy to me, even to
the very crows that sat upon the ploughed lands before me, had they been
capable to have understood me; wherefore I said in my soul with much
gladness, Well, I would I had a pen and ink here, I would write this
down before I go any farther, for surely I will not forget this forty
years hence; but alas!  within less than forty days, I began to question
all again; which made me begin to question all still.

93.  Yet still at times, I was helped to believe that it was a true
manifestation of grace unto my soul, though I had lost much of the life
and savour of it.  Now about a week or fortnight after this, I was much
followed by this scripture, ‘Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to
have you’ (Luke 22.31). And sometimes it would sound so loud within me,
yea, and as it were call so strongly after me, that once above all the
rest, I turned my head over my shoulder, thinking verily that some man
had, behind me, called to me; being at a great distance, methought he
called so loud; it came, as I have thought since, to have stirred me up
to prayer, and to watchfulness; it came to acquaint me that a cloud and
a storm was coming down upon me, but I understood it not.

94.  Also, as I remember, that time that it called to me so loud, was
the last time that it sounded in mine ear; but methinks I hear still
with what a loud voice these words, Simon, Simon, sounded in mine ears.
I thought verily, as I have told you, that somebody had called after me,
that was half a mile behind me; and although that was not my name, yet
it made me suddenly look behind me, believing that he that called so
loud meant me.

95.  But so foolish was I, and ignorant, that I knew not the reason of
this sound; which, as I did both see and feel soon after, was sent from
heaven as an alarm, to awaken me to provide for what was coming; only it
would make me muse and wonder in my mind, to think what should be the
reason that this scripture, and that at this rate, so often and so loud,
should still be sounding and rattling in mine ears; but, as I said
before, I soon after perceived the end of God therein.

96.  For about the space of a month after, a very great storm came down
upon me, which handled me twenty times worse than all I had met with
before; it came stealing upon me, now by one piece, then by another;
first, all my comfort was taken from me, then darkness seized upon me,
after which whole floods of blasphemies, both against God, Christ, and
the Scriptures, were poured upon my spirit, to my great confusion and
astonishment.  These blasphemous thoughts were such as also stirred up
questions in me, against the very being of God, and of His only beloved
Son; as whether there were, in truth, a God, or Christ, or no?  And
whether the holy Scriptures were not rather a fable, and cunning story,
than the holy and pure Word of God?

97 The tempter would also much assault me with this, How can you tell
but that the Turks had as good Scriptures to prove their Mahomet the
Saviour, as we have to prove our Jesus is?  And, could I think, that so
many ten thousands, in so many countries and kingdoms, should be without
the knowledge of the right way to heaven; if there were indeed a heaven,
and that we only, who live in a corner of the earth, should alone be
blessed therewith?  Everyone doth think his own religion rightest, both
Jews and Moors, and Pagans!  and how if all our faith, and Christ, and
Scriptures, should be but a think-so too?

98.  Sometimes I have endeavoured to argue against these suggestions,
and to set some of the sentences of blessed Paul against them; but,
alas!  I quickly felt, when I thus did, such arguings as these would
return again upon me, Though we made so great a matter of Paul, and of
his words, yet how could I tell, but that in very deed, he being a
subtle and cunning man, might give himself up to deceive with strong
delusions; and also take both that pains and travail, to undo and
destroy his fellows?

99.  These suggestions, with many other which at this time I may not,
nor dare not utter, neither by word nor pen, did make such a seizure
upon my spirit, and did so overweigh my heart, both with their number,
continuance, and fiery force, that I felt as if there were nothing else
but these from morning to night within me; and as though, indeed, there
could be room for nothing else; and also concluded that God had, in very
wrath to my soul, given me up unto them, to be carried away with them,
as with a mighty whirlwind.

100.  Only by the distaste that they gave unto my spirit, I felt there
was something in me that refused to embrace them.  But this
consideration I then only had, when God gave me leave to swallow my
spittle, otherwise the noise, and strength, and force of these
temptations, would drown and overflow, and as it were bury all such
thoughts or the remembrance of any such thing.  While I was in this
temptation, I should often find my mind suddenly put upon it, to curse
and swear, or to speak some grievous thing against God, or Christ His
Son, and of the Scriptures.

101.  Now I thought, surely I am possessed of the devil; at other times
again, I thought I should be bereft of my wits; for instead of lauding
and magnifying God the Lord with others, if I have but heard Him spoken
of, presently some most horrible blasphemous thought or other would bolt
out of my heart against Him; so that whether I did think that God was,
or again did think there were no such thing, no love, nor peace, nor
gracious disposition could I feel within me.

102.  These things did sink me into very deep despair; for I concluded,
that such things could not possibly be found amongst them that loved
God.  I often, when these temptations have been with force upon me, did
compare myself in the case of such a child, whom some gipsy hath by
force took up under her apron, and is carrying from friend and country;
kick sometimes I did, and also scream and cry; but yet I was as bound in
the wings of the temptation, and the wind would carry me away.  I
thought also of Saul, and of the evil spirit that did possess him; and
did greatly fear that my condition was the same with that of his (1 Sam.
16.14).

103.  In these days, when I have heard others talk of what was the sin
against the Holy Ghost, then would the tempter so provoke me to desire
to sin that sin, that I was as if I could not, must not, neither should
be quiet until I had committed that; now, no sin would serve but that;
if it were to be committed by speaking of such a word, then I have been
as if my mouth would have spoken that word, whether I would or no; and
in so strong a measure was this temptation upon me, that often I have
been ready to clap my hand under my chin, to hold my mouth from opening;
and to that end also I have had thoughts at other times, to leap with my
head downward, into some muck-hill hole or other, to keep my mouth from
speaking.

104.  Now I blessed the condition of the dog and toad, and counted the
estate of everything that God had made far better than this dreadful
state of mine, and such as my companions was; yea, gladly would I have
been in the condition of dog or horse, for I knew they had no soul to
perish under the everlasting weights of hell for sin, as mine was like
to do.  Nay, and though I saw this, felt this, and was broken to pieces
with it, yet that which added to my sorrow was, that I could not find
that with all my soul I did desire deliverance.  That scripture did also
tear and rend my soul, in the midst of these distractions, ‘The wicked
are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up
mire and dirt.  There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked’ (Isa.
57.20, 21).

105.  And now my heart was, at times, exceeding hard; if I would have
given a thousand pounds for a tear, I could not shed one; no, nor
sometimes scarce desire to shed one.  I was much dejected to think that
this should be my lot.  I saw some could mourn and lament their sin; and
others, again, could rejoice, and bless God for Christ; and others,
again, could quietly talk of, and with gladness remember, the Word of
God; while I only was in the storm or tempest.  This much sunk me; I
thought my condition was alone.  I should, therefore, much bewail my
hard hap; but get out of, or get rid of, these things, I could not.

106.  While this temptation lasted, which was about a year, I could
attend upon none of the ordinances of God but with sore and great
affliction.  Yea, then was I most distressed with blasphemies; if I have
been hearing the Word, then uncleanness, blasphemies and despair would
hold me as captive there; if I have been reading, then, sometimes, I had
sudden thoughts to question all I read; sometimes, again, my mind would
be so strangely snatched away, and possessed with other things, that I
have neither known, nor regarded, nor remembered so much as the sentence
that but now I have read.

107.  In prayer, also, I have been greatly troubled at this time;
sometimes I have thought I should see the devil; nay, thought I have
felt him, behind me, pull my clothes; he would be, also, continually at
me in the time of prayer to have done; break off, make haste, you have
prayed enough, and stay no longer, still drawing my mind away.
Sometimes, also, he would cast in such wicked thoughts as these: that I
must pray to him, or for him.  I have thought sometimes of that-Fall
down, or, ‘if thou wilt fall down and worship me’ (Matt.  4.9).

108.  Also, when, because I have had wandering thoughts in the time of
this duty, I have laboured to compose my mind and fix it upon God, then,
with great force, hath the tempter laboured to distract me, and confound
me, and to turn away my mind, by presenting to my heart and fancy the
form of a bush, a bull, a besom, or the like, as if I should pray to
those; to these he would, also, at some times especially, so hold my
mind that I was as if I could think of nothing else, or pray to nothing
else but to these, or such as they.

109.  Yet, at times I should have some strong and heart-affecting
apprehensions of God, and the reality of the truth of His gospel; but,
oh!  how would my heart, at such times, put forth itself with
inexpressible groanings.  My whole soul was then in every word; I should
cry with pangs after God that He would be merciful unto me; but then I
should be daunted again with such conceits as these: I should think that
God did mock at these, my prayers, saying, and that in the audience of
the holy angels, This poor simple wretch doth hanker after Me as if I
had nothing to do with My mercy but to bestow it on such as he.  Alas,
poor fool!  how art thou deceived; It is not for such as thee to have
favour with the Highest.

110.  Then hath the tempter come upon me, also, with such
discouragements as these: You are very hot for mercy, but I will cool
you; this frame shall not last always; many have been as hot as you for
a spirit, but I have quenched their zeal.  And with this, such and such
who were fallen off would be set before mine eyes.  Then I should be
afraid that I should do so too; but, thought I, I am glad this comes
into my mind.  Well, I will watch, and take what heed I can.  Though you
do, said Satan, I shall be too hard for you; I will cool you insensibly,
by degrees, by little and little.  What care I, saith he, though I be
seven years in chilling your heart if I can do it at last?  Continual
rocking will lull a crying child asleep.  I will ply it close, but I
will have my end accomplished.  Though you be burning hot at present,
yet, if I can pull you from this fire, I shall have you cold before it
be long.

111.  These things brought me into great straits; for as I at present
could not find myself fit for present death, so I thought to live long
would make me yet more unfit; for time would make me forget all, and
wear even the remembrance of the evil of sin, the worth of heaven, and
the need I had of the blood of Christ to wash me, both out of mind and
thought; but I thank Christ Jesus these things did not at present make
me slack my crying, but rather did put me more upon it, like her who met
with the adulterer (Deut.  22.27); in which days that was a good word to
me after I had suffered these things a while: ‘I am persuaded that
neither_5height, nor depth, nor life,’ etc., ‘shall_5separate us from
the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus’ (Rom.  8.38). And now I hoped
long life should not destroy me, nor make me miss of heaven.

112.  Yet I had some supports in this temptation, though they were then
all questioned by me; that in the third of Jeremiah, at the first, was
something to me, and so was the consideration of the fifth verse of that
chapter; that though we have spoken and done as evil things as we could,
yet we should cry unto God, ‘My Father, Thou art the guide of my youth’;
and should return unto Him.

113.  I had, also, once a sweet glance from that in II Cor.  5.21: ‘For
he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be
made the righteousness of God in him.’  I remember, also, that one day
as I was sitting in a neighbour’s house, and there very sad at the
consideration of my many blasphemies, and as I was saying in my mind,
What ground have I to think that I, who have been so vile and
abominable, should ever inherit eternal life?  that word came suddenly
upon me, ‘What shall we then say to these things?  If God be for us, who
can be against us?’  (Rom.  8.31). That, also, was an help unto me,
‘Because I live, ye shall live also’ (John 14.19). But these were but
hints, touches, and short visits, though very sweet when present; only
they lasted not; but, like to Peter’s sheet, of a sudden were caught up
from me to heaven again (Acts 10.16).

114.  But afterwards the Lord did more fully and graciously discover
Himself unto me; and, indeed, did quite, not only deliver me from the
guilt that, by these things, was laid upon my conscience, but also from
the very filth thereof; for the temptation was removed, and I was put
into my right mind again, as other Christians were.

115.  I remember that one day, as I was travelling into the country and
musing on the wickedness and blasphemy of my heart, and considering of
the enmity that was in me to God, that scripture came in my mind, He
hath ‘made peace through the blood of his cross’ (Col.  1.20). By which
I was made to see, both again, and again, and again, that day, that God
and my soul were friends by this blood; yea, I saw that the justice of
God and my sinful soul could embrace and kiss each other through this
blood.  This was a good day to me; I hope I shall not forget it.

116.  At another time, as I sat by the fire in my house, and musing on
my wretchedness, the Lord made that also a precious word unto me,
‘Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he
also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might
destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver
them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to
bondage’ (Heb.  2.14, 15). I thought that the glory of these words was
then so weighty on me that I was, both once and twice, ready to swoon as
I sat; yet not with grief and trouble, but with solid joy and peace.

117.  At this time, also, I sat under the ministry of holy Mr.
Gifford, whose doctrine, by God’s grace, was much for my stability.
This man made it much his business to deliver the people of God from all
those faults and unsound rests that, by nature, we are prone to take and
make to our souls.  He pressed up to take special heed that we took not
up any truth upon trust-as from this, or that, or any other man or men-
but to cry mightily to God that He would convince us of the reality
thereof, and set us down therein, by His own Spirit, in the holy Word;
for, said he, if you do otherwise when temptations come, if strongly,
you, not having received them with evidence from heaven, will find you
want that help and strength now to resist as once you thought you had.

118.  This was as seasonable to my soul as the former and latter rain
in their season; for I had found, and that by sad experience, the truth
of these his words; for I had felt what no man can say, especially when
tempted by the devil, that Jesus Christ is Lord but by the Holy Ghost.
Wherefore I found my soul, through grace, very apt to drink in this
doctrine, and to incline to pray to God that, in nothing that pertained
to God’s glory and my own eternal happiness, He would suffer me to be
without the confirmation thereof from heaven; for now I saw clearly
there was an exceeding difference betwixt the notions of flesh and
blood, and the revelations of God in heaven; also, a great difference
between that faith that is feigned, and according to man’s wisdom, and
of that which comes by a man’s being born thereto of God (Matt.  16.15-
17; 1 John 5.1).

119.  But, oh!  now, how was my soul led from truth to truth by God!
even from the birth and cradle of the Son of God to His ascension and
second coming from heaven to judge the world.

120.  Truly, I then found, upon this account, the great God was very
good unto me; for, to my remembrance, there was not anything that I then
cried unto God to make known and reveal unto me but He was pleased to do
it for me; I mean not one part of the gospel of the Lord Jesus, but I
was orderly led into it.  Methought I saw with great evidence, from the
relation of the four evangelists, the wonderful work of God, in giving
Jesus Christ to save us, from His conception and birth even to His
second coming to judgment.  Methought I was as if I had seen Him born,
as if I had seen Him grow up, as if I had seen Him walk through this
world, from the cradle to His cross: to which, also, when He came, I saw
how gently He gave Himself to be hanged and nailed on it for my sins and
wicked doings.  Also, as I was musing on this, His progress, that
dropped on my spirit, He was ordained for the slaughter (1 Pet.  1.19,
20).

121.  When I have considered also the truth of His resurrection, and
have remembered that word, ‘Touch me not, Mary,’ etc., I have seen as if
He leaped at the grave’s mouth for joy that He was risen again, and had
got the conquest over our dreadful foes (John 20.17). I have also, in
the spirit, seen Him a man on the right hand of God the Father for me,
and have seen the manner of His coming from heaven to judge the world
with glory, and have been confirmed in these things by these scriptures
following, Acts 1.9, 10; 7.56; 10.42; Heb.  7.24; 8.3; Rev.  1.18; 1
Thess.  4.17, 18.

122.  Once I was much troubled to know whether the Lord Jesus was both
man as well as God, and God as well as man; and truly, in those days,
let men say what they would, unless I had it with evidence from heaven,
all was as nothing to me, I counted not myself set down in any truth of
God.  Well, I was much troubled about this point, and could not tell how
to be resolved; at last, that in the fifth of the Revelations came into
my mind, ‘And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the
four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb.’  In the
midst of the throne, thought I, there is His Godhead; in the midst of
the elders, there is His manhood; but oh!  methought this did glister!
it was a goodly touch, and gave me sweet satisfaction.  That other
scripture also did help me much in this, ‘To us a child is born, unto us
a son is given; and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his
name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The
everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,’ etc.  (Isa.  9.6).

123.  Also, besides these teachings of God in His Word, the Lord made
use of two things to confirm me in these things; the one was the errors
of the Quakers, and the other was the guilt of sin; for as the Quakers
did oppose His truth, so God did the more confirm me in it, by leading
me into the scriptures that did wonderfully maintain it.

124.  The errors that this people then maintained were: 1.  That the
holy Scriptures were not the Word of God.  2.  That every man in the
world had the spirit of Christ, grace, faith, etc.  3.  That Christ
Jesus, as crucified, and dying 1600 years ago, did not satisfy divine
justice for the sins of the people.  4.  That Christ’s flesh and blood
was within the saints.  5.  That the bodies of the good and bad that are
buried in the churchyard shall not arise again.  6.  That the
resurrection is past with good men already.  7.  That that man Jesus,
that was crucified between two thieves on Mount Calvary, in the land of
Canaan, by Jerusalem, was not ascended up above the starry heavens.  8.
That He should not, even the same Jesus that died by the hands of the
Jews, come again at the last day, and as man judge all nations, etc.

125.  Many more vile and abominable things were in those days fomented
by them, by which I was driven to a more narrow search of the
Scriptures, and was, through their light and testimony, not only
enlightened, but greatly confirmed and comforted in the truth; and, as I
said, the guilt of sin did help me much, for still as that would come
upon me, the blood of Christ did take it off again, and again, and
again, and that too, sweetly, according to the Scriptures.  O friends!
cry to God to reveal Jesus Christ unto you; there is none teacheth like
Him.

126.  It would be too long for me here to stay, to tell you in
particular how God did set me down in all the things of Christ, and how
He did, that He might do so, lead me into His words; yea, and also how
He did open them unto me, make them shine before me, and comfort me over
and over, both of His own being, and the being of His Son, and Spirit,
and Word, and gospel.

127.  Only this, as I said before I will say unto you again, that in
general He was pleased to take this course with me; first, to suffer me
to be afflicted with temptation concerning them, and then reveal them to
me: as sometimes I should lie under great guilt for sin, even crushed to
the ground therewith, and then the Lord would show me the death of
Christ; yea, and so sprinkle my conscience with His blood, that I should
find, and that before I was aware, that in that conscience where but
just now did reign and rage the law, even there would rest and abide the
peace and love of God through Christ.

128.  Now had I an evidence, as I thought, of my salvation from heaven,
with many golden seals thereon, all hanging in my sight; now could I
remember this manifestation and the other discovery of grace, with
comfort; and should often long and desire that the last day were come,
that I might for ever be inflamed with the sight, and joy, and communion
with Him whose head was crowned with thorns, whose face was spit on, and
body broken, and soul made an offering for my sins: for whereas, before,
I lay continually trembling at the mouth of hell, now methought I was
got so far therefrom that I could not, when I looked back, scarce
discern it; and oh!  thought I, that I were fourscore years old now,
that I might die quickly, that my soul might be gone to rest.

129.  But before I had got thus far out of these my temptations, I did
greatly long to see some ancient godly man’s experience, who had writ
some hundreds of years before I was born; for those who had writ in our
days, I thought, but I desire them now to pardon me, that they had writ
only that which others felt, or else had, through the strength of their
wits and parts, studied to answer such objections as they perceived
others were perplexed with, without going down themselves into the deep.
Well, after many such longings in my mind, the God in whose hands are
all our days and ways, did cast into my hand, one day, a book of Martin
Luther; it was his comment on the Galatians-it also was so old that it
was ready to fall piece from piece if I did but turn it over.  Now I was
pleased much that such an old book had fallen into my hands; the which,
when I had but a little way perused, I found my condition, in his
experience, so largely and profoundly handled, as if his book had been
written out of my heart.  This made me marvel; for thus thought I, This
man could not know anything of the state of Christians now, but must
needs write and speak the experience of former days.

130.  Besides, he doth most gravely, also, in that book, debate of the
rise of these temptations, namely, blasphemy, desperation, and the like;
showing that the law of Moses as well as the devil, death, and hell hath
a very great hand therein, the which, at first, was very strange to me;
but considering and watching, I found it so indeed.  But of particulars
here I intend nothing; only this, methinks, I must let fall before all
men, I do prefer this book of Martin Luther upon the Galatians,
excepting the Holy Bible, before all the books that ever I have seen, as
most fit for a wounded conscience.

131.  And now I found, as I thought, that I loved Christ dearly; oh!
methought my soul cleaved unto Him, my affections cleaved unto Him, I
felt love unto Him as hot as fire; and now, as Job said, I thought I
should die in my nest; but I did quickly find that my great love was but
little, and that I, who had, as I thought, such burning love to Jesus
Christ, could let Him go again for a very trifle; God can tell how to
abase us, and can hide pride from man.  Quickly after this my love was
tried to purpose.

132.  For after the Lord had, in this manner, thus graciously delivered
me from this great and sore temptation, and had set me down so sweetly
in the faith of His holy gospel, and had given me such strong
consolation and blessed evidence from heaven touching my interest in His
love through Christ; the tempter came upon me again, and that with a
more grievous and dreadful temptation than before.

133.  And that was, To sell and part with this most blessed Christ, to
exchange Him for the things of this life, for anything.  The temptation
lay upon me for the space of a year, and did follow me so continually
that I was not rid of it one day in a month, no, not sometimes one hour
in many days together, unless when I was asleep.

134.  And though, in my judgment, I was persuaded that those who were
once effectually in Christ, as I hoped, through His grace, I had seen
myself, could never lose Him for ever-for ‘the land shall not be sold
for ever, for the land is mine,’ saith God (Lev.  25.23)-yet it was a
continual vexation to me to think that I should have so much as one such
thought within me against a Christ, a Jesus, that had done for me as He
had done; and yet then I had almost none others, but such blasphemous
ones.

135.  But it was neither my dislike of the thought, nor yet any desire
and endeavour to resist it that in the least did shake or abate the
continuation, or force and strength thereof; for it did always, in
almost whatever I thought, intermix itself therewith in such sort that I
could neither eat my food, stoop for a pin, chop a stick, or cast mine
eye to look on this, or that, but still the temptation would come, Sell
Christ for this, or sell Christ for that; sell Him, sell Him.

136.  Sometimes it would run in my thoughts, not so little as a hundred
times together, Sell Him, sell Him, sell Him; against which I may say,
for whole hours together, I have been forced to stand as continually
leaning and forcing my spirit against it, lest haply, before I were
aware, some wicked thought might arise in my heart that might consent
thereto; and sometimes also the tempter would make me believe I had
consented to it, then should I be as tortured upon a rack for whole days
together.

137.  This temptation did put me to such scares, lest I should at
sometimes, I say, consent thereto, and be overcome therewith, that by
the very force of my mind in labouring to gainsay and resist this
wickedness, my very body also would be put into action or motion by way
of pushing or thrusting with my hands or elbows, still answering as fast
as the destroyer said, Sell Him; I will not, I will not, I will not, I
will not; no, not for thousands, thousands, thousands of worlds.  Thus
reckoning lest I should in the midst of these assaults, set too low a
value of Him, even until I scarce well knew where I was, or how to be
composed again.

138.  At these seasons he would not let me eat my food at quiet; but,
forsooth, when I was set at the table at my meat, I must go hence to
pray; I must leave my food now, and just now, so counterfeit holy also
would this devil be.  When I was thus tempted, I should say in myself,
Now I am at my meat, let me make an end.  No, said he, you must do it
now, or you will displease God, and despise Christ.  Wherefore I was
much afflicted with these things; and because of the sinfulness of my
nature, imagining that these things were impulses from God, I should
deny to do it, as if I denied God; and then should I be as guilty,
because I did not obey a temptation of the devil, as if I had broken the
law of God indeed.

139.  But to be brief, one morning, as I did lie in my bed, I was, at
other times, most fiercely assaulted with this temptation, to sell and
part with Christ; the wicked suggestion still running in my mind, Sell
Him, sell Him, sell Him, sell Him, sell Him, as fast as a man could
speak; against which also, in my mind, as at other times, I answered,
No, no, not for thousands, thousands, thousands, at least twenty times
together.  But at last, after much striving, even until I was almost out
of breath, I felt this thought pass through my heart, Let Him go, if He
will!  and I thought also, that I felt my heart freely consent thereto.
Oh, the diligence of Satan!  Oh, the desperateness of man’s heart!

140.  Now was the battle won, and down I fell, as a bird that is shot
from the top of a tree, into great guilt, and fearful despair.  Thus
getting out of my bed, I went moping into the field; but God knows, with
as heavy a heart as mortal man, I think, could bear; where, for the
space of two hours, I was like a man bereft of life, and as now past all
recovery, and bound over to eternal punishment.

141.  And withal, that scripture did seize upon my soul, ‘Or profane
person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat, sold his birthright; for ye
know, how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he
was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it
carefully with tears’ (Heb.  12.16,17).

142.  Now was I as one bound, I felt myself shut up unto the judgment
to come; nothing now for two years together would abide with me, but
damnation, and an expectation of damnation; I say, nothing now would
abide with me but this, save some few moments for relief, as in the
sequel you will see.

143.  These words were to my soul like fetters of brass to my legs, in
the continual sound of which I went for several months together.  But
about ten or eleven o’clock one day, as I was walking under a hedge,
full of sorrow and guilt, God knows, and bemoaning myself for this hard
hap that such a thought should arise within me; suddenly this sentence
bolted in upon me, The blood of Christ remits all guilt.  At this I made
a stand in my spirit; with that, this word took hold upon me, ‘The blood
of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin’ (1 John 1.7).

144.  Now I began to conceive peace in my soul, and methought I saw as
if the tempter did leer and steal away from me, as being ashamed of what
he had done.  At the same time also I had my sin, and the blood of
Christ thus represented to me, that my sin, when compared to the blood
of Christ, was no more to it, than this little clot or stone before me,
is to this vast and wide field that here I see.  This gave me good
encouragement for the space of two or three hours; in which time also,
methought I saw, by faith, the Son of God, as suffering for my sins; but
because it tarried not, I therefore sunk in my spirit, under exceeding
guilt again.

145.  But chiefly by the afore-mentioned scripture, concerning Esau’s
selling of his birthright; for that scripture would lie all day long,
all the week long, yea, all the year long in my mind, and hold me down,
so that I could by no means lift up myself; for when I would strive to
turn me to this scripture, or that, for relief, still that sentence
would be sounding in me, ‘For ye know, how that afterward, when he would
have inherited the blessing_5he found no place of repentance, though he
sought it carefully with tears.’

146.  Sometimes, also, I should have a touch from that in Luke 22.32,
‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not’; but it would not
abide upon me; neither could I indeed, when I considered my state, find
ground to conceive in the least, that there should be the root of that
grace within me, having sinned as I had done.  Now was I torn and rent
in heavy case, for many days together.

147.  Then began I with sad and careful heart, to consider of the
nature and largeness of my sin, and to search in the Word of God, if I
could in any place espy a word of promise, or any encouraging sentence
by which I might take relief.  Wherefore I began to consider that third
of Mark, All manner of sins and blasphemies shall be forgiven unto the
sons of men, wherewith soever they shall blaspheme.  Which place,
methought, at a blush, did contain a large and glorious promise, for the
pardon of high offences; but considering the place more fully, I thought
it was rather to be understood as relating more chiefly to those who
had, while in a natural state, committed such things as there are
mentioned; but not to me, who had not only received light and mercy, but
that had, both after, and also contrary to that, so slighted Christ as I
had done.

148.  I feared therefore that this wicked sin of mine might be that sin
unpardonable, of which he there thus speaketh, ‘But he that shall
blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in
danger of eternal damnation’ (Mark 3.29). And I did the rather give
credit to this, because of that sentence in the Hebrews, ‘For ye know,
how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was
rejected; for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it
carefully with tears.’  And this stuck always with me.

149.  And now was I both a burden and a terror to myself, nor did I
ever so know, as now, what it was to be weary of my life, and yet afraid
to die.  Oh, how gladly now would I have been anybody but myself!
Anything but a man!  and in any condition but mine own!  for there was
nothing did pass more frequently over my mind, than that it was
impossible for me to be forgiven my transgression, and to be saved from
wrath to come.

150.  And now began I to labour to call again time that was past;
wishing a thousand times twice told, that the day was yet to come, when
I should be tempted to such a sin; concluding with great indignation,
both against my heart, and all assaults, how I would rather have been
torn in pieces, than found a consenter thereto.  But alas!  these
thoughts, and wishings, and resolvings, were now too late to help me;
the thought had passed my heart, God hath let me go, and I am fallen.
Oh!  thought I, ‘that it was with me as in months past, as in the days
when God preserved me!’  (Job 29.2).

151.  Then again, being loath and unwilling to perish, I began to
compare my sin with others, to see if I could find that any of those
that were saved had done as I had done.  So I considered David’s
adultery and murder, and found them most heinous crimes; and those too
committed after light and grace received; but yet by considering, I
perceived that his transgressions were only such as were against the law
of Moses; from which the Lord Christ could, with the consent of His
Word, deliver him; but mine was against the gospel, yea, against the
Mediator thereof; I had sold my Saviour.

152.  Now again should I be as if racked upon the wheel, when I
considered, that, besides the guilt that possessed me, I should be so
void of grace, so bewitched.  What, thought I, must it be no sin but
this?  Must it needs be the great transgression (Ps.  19.13)? Must that
wicked one touch my soul (1 John 5.18)? Oh, what stings did I find in
all these sentences!

153.  What, thought I, is there but one sin that is unpardonable?  But
one sin that layeth the soul without the reach of God’s mercy; and must
I be guilty of that?  Must it needs be that?  Is there but one sin among
so many millions of sins, for which there is no forgiveness; and must I
commit this?  Oh, unhappy sin!  Oh, unhappy man!  These things would so
break and confound my spirit, that I could not tell what to do; I
thought, at times, they would have broke my wits; and still, to
aggravate my misery, that would run in my mind, ‘Ye know how that
afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected.’
Oh!  none knows the terrors of those days but myself.

154.  After this I came to consider of Peter’s sin, which he committed
in denying his Master; and indeed, this came nighest to mine, of any
that I could find; for he had denied his Saviour, as I, and that after
light and mercy received; yea, and that too, after warning given him.  I
also considered, that he did it both once and twice; and that, after
time to consider betwixt.  But though I put all these circumstances
together, that, if possible, I might find help, yet I considered again,
that his was but a denial of his Master, but mine was a selling of my
Saviour.  Wherefore I thought with myself, that I came nearer to Judas,
than either to David or Peter.

155.  Here again my torment would flame out and afflict me; yea, it
would grind me, as it were, to powder, to discern the preservation of
God towards others, while I fell into the snare; for in my thus
considering of other men’s sins, and comparing of them with my own, I
could evidently see how God preserved them, notwithstanding their
wickedness, and would not let them, as he had let me, to become a son of
perdition.

156.  But oh, how did my soul, at this time, prize the preservation
that God did set about his people!  Ah, how safely did I see them walk,
whom God had hedged in!  They were within His care, protection, and
special providence; though they were full as bad as I by nature; yet     
because He loved them, He would not suffer them to fall without the
range of mercy; but as for me, I was gone, I had done it; He would not
preserve me, nor keep me; but suffered me, because I was a reprobate, to
fall as I had done.  Now, did those blessed places, that spake of God’s
keeping His people, shine like the sun before me, though not to comfort
me, but to show me the blessed state and heritage of those whom the Lord
had blessed.

157.  Now I saw, that as God had His hand in all providences and
dispensation that overtook His elect, so He had His hand in all the
temptations that they had to sin against Him, not to animate them unto
wickedness, but to choose their temptations and troubles for them; and
also to leave them, for a time, to such sins only as might not destroy,
but humble them; as might not put them beyond, but lay them in the way
of the renewing of His mercy.  But oh, what love, what care, what
kindness and mercy did I now see, mixing itself with the most severe and
dreadful of all God’s ways to His people!  He would let David, Hezekiah,
Solomon, Peter, and others fall, but He would not let them fall into sin
unpardonable, nor into hell for sin.  Oh!  thought I, these be the men
that God hath loved; these be the men that God, though He chastiseth
them, keeps them in safety by Him, and them whom He makes to abide under
the shadow of the Almighty.  But all these thoughts added sorrow, grief,
and horror to me, as whatever I now thought on, it was killing to me.
If I thought how God kept His own, that was killing to me.  If I thought
of how I was falling myself, that was killing to me.  As all things
wrought together for the best, and to do good to them that were the
called, according to His purpose; so I thought that all things wrought
for my damage, and for my eternal overthrow.

158.  Then, again, I began to compare my sin with the sin of Judas,
that, if possible, I might find that mine differed from that which, in
truth, is unpardonable.  And, oh!  thought I, if it should differ from
it, though but the breadth of an hair, what a happy condition is my soul
in!  And, by considering, I found that Judas did his intentionally, but
mine was against my prayer and strivings; besides, his was committed
with much deliberation, but mine in a fearful hurry, on a sudden; all
this while I was tossed to and fro, like the locusts, and driven from
trouble to sorrow; hearing always the sound of Esau’s fall in mine ears,
and of the dreadful consequences thereof.

159.  Yet this consideration about Judas, his sin, was, for a while,
some little relief unto me; for I saw I had not, as to the
circumstances, transgressed so foully as he.  But this was quickly gone
again, for, I thought with myself, there might be more ways than one to
commit the unpardonable sin; also I thought that there might be degrees
of that, as well as of other transgressions; wherefore, for aught I yet
could perceive, this iniquity of mine might be such, as might never be
passed by.

160.  I was often now ashamed, that I should be like such an ugly man
as Judas; I thought, also, how loathsome I should be unto all the saints
at the day of judgment; insomuch, that now I could scarce see a good
man, that I believed had a good conscience, but I should feel my heart
tremble at him, while I was in his presence.  Oh!  now I saw a glory in
walking with God, and what a mercy it was to have a good conscience
before Him.

161.  I was much about this time tempted to content myself, by
receiving some false opinion; as that there should be no such thing as a
day of judgment, that we should not rise again, and that sin was no such
grievous thing; the tempter suggesting thus, For if these things should
indeed be true, yet to believe otherwise, would yield you ease for the
present.  If you must perish, never torment yourself so much beforehand;
drive the thoughts of damning out of your mind, by possessing your mind
with some such conclusions that Atheists and Ranters do use to help
themselves withal.

162.  But oh!  when such thoughts have led through my heart, how, as it
were, within a step, hath death and judgment been in my view; methought
the judge stood at the door, I was as if it was come already; so that
such things could have no entertainment.  But, methinks, I see by this,
that Satan will use any means to keep the soul from Christ; he loveth
not an awakened frame of spirit; security, blindness, darkness, and
error is the very kingdom and habitation of the wicked one.

163.  I found it hard work now to pray to God, because despair was
swallowing me up; I thought I was, as with a tempest, driven away from
God, for always when I cried to God for mercy, this would come in, It is
too late, I am lost, God hath let me fall; not to my correction, but
condemnation; my sin is unpardonable; and I know, concerning Esau, how
that, after he had sold his birthright, he would have received the
blessing, but was rejected.  About this time, I did light on that
dreadful story of that miserable mortal, Francis Spira; a book that was
to my troubled spirit as salt, when rubbed into a fresh wound; every
sentence in that book, every groan of that man, with all the rest of his
actions in his dolours, as his tears, his prayers, his gnashing of
teeth, his wringing of hands, his twining and twisting, languishing and
pining away under that mighty hand of God that was upon him, was as
knives and daggers in my soul; especially that sentence of his was
frightful to me, Man knows the beginning of sin, but who bounds the
issues thereof?  Then would the former sentence, as the conclusion of
all, fall like a hot thunderbolt again

upon my conscience; ‘for you know how that afterward, when he would have
inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place of
repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.’

164.  Then was I struck into a very great trembling, insomuch that at
sometimes I could, for whole days together, feel my very body, as well
as my mind, to shake and totter under the sense of the dreadful judgment
of God, that should fall on those that have sinned that most fearful and
unpardonable sin.  I felt also such a clogging and heat at my stomach,
by reason of this my terror, that I was, especially at some times, as if
my breast bone would have split in sunder; then I thought of that
concerning Judas, who, by his falling headlong, burst asunder, and all
his bowels gushed out (Acts 1:18).

165.  I feared also that this was the mark that the Lord did set on
Cain, even continued fear and trembling, under the heavy load of guilt
that he had charged on him for the blood of his brother Abel.  Thus did
I wind, and twine, and shrink, under the burden that was upon me; which
burden also did so oppress me, that I could neither stand, nor go, nor
lie, either at rest or quiet.

166.  Yet that saying would sometimes come to my mind, He hath received
gifts for the rebellious (Ps.  68.18). ‘The rebellious,’ thought I; why,
surely they are such as once were under subjection to their prince, even
those who, after they have sworn subjection to his government, have
taken up arms against him; and this, thought I, is my very condition;
once I loved Him, feared Him, served Him; but now I am a rebel; I have
sold Him, I have said, Let Him go if He will; but yet He has gifts for
rebels, and then why not for me?

167.  This sometimes I thought on, and should labour to take hold
thereof, that some, though small, refreshment might have been conceived
by me; but in this also I missed of my desire, I was driven with force
beyond it, I was like a man that is going to the place of execution,
even by that place where he would fain creep in and hide himself, but
may not.

168.  Again, after I had thus considered the sins of the saints in
particular, and found mine went beyond them, then I began to think thus
with myself: Set the case I should put all theirs together, and mine
alone against them, might I not then find some encouragement?  For if
mine, though bigger than any one, yet should but be equal to all, then
there is hopes; for that blood that hath virtue enough in it to wash
away all theirs, hath also virtue enough in it to do away mine, though
this one be full as big, if no bigger, than all theirs.  Here, again, I
should consider the sin of David, of Solomon, of Manasseh, of Peter, and
the rest of the great offenders; and should also labour, what I might
with fairness, to aggravate and heighten their sins by several
circumstances: but, alas!  it was all in vain.

169.  I should think with myself that David shed blood to cover his
adultery, and that by the sword of the children of Ammon; a work that
could not be done but by continuance and deliberate contrivance, which
was a great aggravation to his sin.  But then this would turn upon me:
Ah!  but these were but sins against the law, from which there was a
Jesus sent to save them; but yours is a sin against the Saviour, and who
shall save you from that?

170.  Then I thought on Solomon, and how he sinned in loving strange
women, in falling away to their idols, in building them temples, in
doing this after light, in his old age, after great mercy received; but
the same conclusion that cut me off in the former consideration, cut me
off as to this; namely, that all those were but sins against the law,
for which God had provided a remedy; but I had sold my Saviour, and
there now remained no more sacrifice for sin.

171.  I would then add to those men’s sins, the sins of Manasseh, how
that he built altars for idols in the house of the Lord; he also
observed times, used enchantments, had to do with wizards, was a wizard,
had his familiar spirits, burned his children in the fire in sacrifice
to devils, and made the streets of Jerusalem run down with the blood of
innocents.  These, I thought, are great sins, sins of a bloody colour;
yea, it would turn again upon me: They are none of them of the nature of
yours; you have parted with Jesus, you have sold your Saviour.

172.  This one consideration would always kill my heart, My sin was
point-blank against my Saviour; and that too, at that height, that I had
in my heart said of Him, Let Him go if He will.  Oh!  methought, this
sin was bigger than the sins of a country, of a kingdom, or of the whole
world, no one pardonable, nor all of them together, was able to equal
mine; mine outwent them every one.

173.  Now I should find my mind to flee from God, as from the face of a
dreadful judge; yet this was my torment, I could not escape His hand:
‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ (Heb.
10.31). But blessed be His grace, that scripture, in these flying sins,
would call as running after me, ‘I have blotted out, as a thick cloud,
thy transgressions; and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me, for I
have redeemed thee’ (Isa.  44.22). This, I say, would come in upon my
mind, when I was fleeing from the face of God; for I did flee from His
face, that is, my mind and spirit fled before Him; by reason of His
highness, I could not endure; then would the text cry, ‘Return unto me,
for I have redeemed thee.’  Indeed, this would make me make a little
stop, and, as it were, look over my shoulder behind me, to see if I
could discern that the God of grace did follow me with a pardon in His
hand, but I could no sooner do that, but all would be clouded and
darkened again by that sentence, ‘For you know how that afterward, when
he would have inherited the blessing, he found no place of repentance,
though he sought it carefully with tears.’  Wherefore I could not
return, but fled, though at sometimes it cried ‘Return, return’, as if
it did holloa after me.  But I feared to close in therewith, lest it
should not come from God; for that other, as I said was still sounding
in my conscience, ‘For you know how that afterward, when he would have
inherited the blessing, he was rejected’, etc.

174.  Once as I was walking to and fro in a good man’s shop, bemoaning
of myself in my sad and doleful state, afflicting myself with self-
abhorrence for this wicked and ungodly thought; lamenting, also, this
hard hap of mine, for that I should commit so great a sin; greatly
fearing I would not be pardoned; praying, also, in my heart, that if
this sin of mine did differ from that against the Holy Ghost, the Lord
would show it me.  And being now ready to sink with fear, suddenly there
was, as if there had rushed in at the window, the noise of wind upon me,
but very pleasant, and as if I heard a voice speaking, Didst ever refuse
to be justified by the blood of Christ?  And withal my whole life and
profession past was, in a moment, opened to me, wherein I was made to
see that designedly I had not; so my heart answered groaningly, No.
Then fell, with power, that word of God upon me, ‘See that ye refuse not
him that speaketh'(Heb.  12.25). This made a strange seizure upon my
spirit; it brought light with it, and commanded a silence in my heart of
all those tumultuous thoughts that before did use, like masterless hell-
hounds, to roar and bellow, and make a hideous noise within me.  It
showed me, also, that Jesus Christ had yet a word of grace and mercy for
me, that He had not, as I had feared, quite forsaken and cast off my
soul; yea, this was a kind of chide for my proneness to desperation; a
kind of a threatening me if I did not, notwithstanding my sins and the
heinousness of them, venture my salvation upon the Son of God.  But as
to my determining about this strange dispensation, what it was I knew
not; from whence it came I knew not.  I have not yet, in twenty years’
time, been able to make a judgment of it; I thought then what here I
shall be loath to speak.  But verily, that sudden rushing wind was as if
an angel had come upon me; but both it and the salvation I will leave
until the day of judgment; only this I say, it commanded a great calm in
my soul, it persuaded me there might be hope; it showed me, as I
thought, what the sin unpardonable was, and that my soul had yet the
blessed privilege to flee to Jesus for mercy.  But, I say, concerning
this dispensation, I know not what yet to say unto it; which was, also,
in truth, the cause that, at first, I did not speak of it in the book; I
do now, also, leave it to be thought on by men of sound judgment.  I lay
not the stress of my salvation thereupon, but upon the Lord Jesus, in
the promise; yet, seeing I am here unfolding of my secret things, I
thought it might not be altogether inexpedient to let this also show
itself, though I cannot now relate the matter as there I did experience
it.  This lasted, in the savour of it, for about three or four days, and
then I began to mistrust and to despair again.

175.  Wherefore, still my life hung in doubt before me, not knowing
which way I should tip; only this I found my soul desire, even to cast
itself at the foot of grace, by prayer and supplication.  But, oh!  it
was hard for me now to bear the face to pray to this Christ for mercy,
against whom I had thus most vilely sinned; it was hard work, I say, to
offer to look Him in the face against whom I had so vilely sinned; and,
indeed, I have found it as difficult to come to God by prayer, after
backsliding from Him, as to do any other thing.  Oh, the shame that did
now attend me!  especially when I thought I am now a-going to pray to
Him for mercy that I had so lightly esteemed but a while before!  I was
ashamed, yea, even confounded, because this villainy had been committed
by me; but I saw there was but one way with me, I must go to Him and
humble myself unto Him, and beg that He, of His wonderful mercy, would
show pity to me, and have mercy upon my wretched sinful soul.

176.  Which, when the tempter perceived, he strongly suggested to me,
That I ought not to pray to God; for prayer was not for any in my case,
neither could it do me good, because I had rejected the Mediator, by
whom all prayer came with acceptance to God the Father, and without whom
no prayer could come into His presence.  Wherefore, now to pray is but
to add sin to sin; yea, now to pray, seeing God has cast you off, is the
next way to anger and offend Him more than you ever did before.

177.  For God, saith he, hath been weary of you for these several years
already, because you are none of His; your bawlings in His ears hath
been no pleasant voice to Him; and, therefore, He let you sin this sin,
that you might be quite cut off; and will you pray still?  This the
devil urged, and set forth that, in Numbers, when Moses said to the
children of Israel, That because they would not go up to possess the
land when God would have them, therefore, for ever after, God did bar
them out from thence, though they prayed they might, with tears (Num.
14.36, 37, etc.).

178.  As it is said in another place (Exod.  21.14), the man that sins
presumptuously shall be taken from God’s altar, that he may die; even as
Joab was by King Solomon, when he thought to find shelter there (1 Kings
2.28, etc.). These places did pinch me very sore; yet, my case being
desperate, I thought with myself I can but die; and if it must be so, it
shall once be said, that such an one died at the foot of Christ in
prayer.  This I did, but with great difficulty, God doth know; and that
because, together with this, still that saying about Esau would be set
at my heart, even like a flaming sword, to keep the way of the tree of
life, lest I should taste thereof and live.  Oh!  who knows how hard a
thing I found it to come to God in prayer.

179.  I did also desire the prayers of the people of God for me, but I
feared that God would give them no heart to do it; yea, I trembled in my
soul to think that some or other of them would shortly tell me, that God
had said those words to them that He once did say to the prophet
concerning the children of Israel, ‘Pray thou not for this people,’ for
I have rejected them (Jer.  11.14). So, pray not for him, for I have
rejected him.  Yea, I thought that He had whispered this to some of them
already, only they durst not tell me so, neither durst I ask them of it,
for fear, if it should be so, it would make me quite beside myself.  Man
knows the beginning of sin, said Spira, but who bounds the issues
thereof?

180.  About this time I took an opportunity to break my mind to an
ancient Christian, and told him all my case; I told him, also, that I
was afraid that I had sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost; and he told
me he thought so too.  Here, therefore, I had but cold comfort; but,
talking a little more with him, I found him, though a good man, a
stranger to much combat with the devil.  Wherefore, I went to God again,
as well as I could, for mercy still.

181.  Now, also, did the tempter begin to mock me in my misery, saying,
that, seeing I had thus parted with the Lord Jesus, and provoked Him to
displeasure, who would have stood between my soul and the flame of
devouring fire, there was now but one way, and that was, to pray that
God the Father would be the Mediator betwixt His Son and me, that we
might be reconciled again, and that I might have that blessed benefit in
Him that His blessed saints enjoyed.

182.  Then did that scripture seize upon my soul, He is of one mind,
and who can turn Him?  Oh!  I saw it was as easy to persuade Him to make
a new world, a new covenant, or new Bible, besides that we have already,
as to pray for such a thing.  This was to persuade Him that what He had
done already was mere folly, and persuade with Him to alter, yea, to
disannul, the whole way of salvation; and then would that saying rend my
soul asunder, ‘Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is
none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved’
(Acts 4.12).

183.  Now the most free, and full, and gracious words of the gospel
were the greatest torment to me; yea, nothing so afflicted me as the
thoughts of Jesus Christ, the remembrance of a Saviour; because I had
cast Him off, brought forth the villainy of my sin, and my loss by it to
mind; nothing did twinge my conscience like this.  Every time that I
thought of the Lord Jesus, of His grace, love, goodness, kindness,
gentleness, meekness, death, blood, promises and blessed exhortations,
comforts and consolations, it went to my soul like a sword; for still,
unto these my considerations of the Lord Jesus, these thoughts would
make place for themselves in my heart; aye, this is the Jesus, the
loving Saviour, the Son of God, whom thou hast parted with, whom you
slighted, despised, and abused.  This is the only Saviour, the only
Redeemer, the only one that could so love sinners as to wash them from
their sins in His own most precious blood; but you have no part nor lot
in this Jesus, you have put Him away from you, you have said in your
heart, Let Him go if He will.  Now, therefore, you are severed from Him;
you have severed yourself from Him.  Behold, then, His goodness, but you
yourself be no partaker of it.  Oh, thought I, what have I lost!  What
have I parted with!  What have I disinherited my poor soul of!  Oh!  it
is sad to be destroyed by the grace and mercy of God; to have the Lamb,
the Saviour, turn lion and destroyer (Rev.  6). I also trembled, as I
have said, at the sight of the saints of God, especially at those that
greatly loved Him, and that made it their business to walk continually
with Him in this world; for they did, both in their words, their
carriages, and all their expressions of tenderness and fear to sin
against their precious Saviour, condemn, lay guilt upon, and also add
continual affliction and shame unto my soul.  The dread of them was upon
me, and I trembled at God’s Samuels (1 Sam.  16.4).

184.  Now, also, the tempter began afresh to mock my soul another way,
saying that Christ, indeed, did pity my case, and was sorry for my loss;
but forasmuch as I had sinned and transgressed, as I had done, He could
by no means help me, nor save me from what I feared; for my sin was not
of the nature of theirs for whom He bled and died, neither was it
counted with those that were laid to His charge when He hanged on the
tree.  Therefore, unless He should come down from heaven and die anew
for this sin, though, indeed, He did greatly pity me, yet I could have
no benefit of Him.  These things may seem ridiculous to others, even as
ridiculous as they were in themselves, but to me they were most
tormenting cogitations; every of them augmented my misery, that Jesus
Christ should have so much love as to pity me when He could not help me;
nor did I think that the reason why He could not help me was because His
merits were weak, or His grace and salvation spent on them already, but
because His faithfulness to His threatening would not let Him extend His
mercy to me.  Besides, I thought, as I have already hinted, that my sin
was not within the bounds of that pardon that was wrapped up in a
promise; and if not, then I knew assuredly, that it was more easy for
heaven and earth to pass away than for me to have eternal life.  So that
the ground of all these fears of mine did arise from a steadfast belief
that I had of the stability of the holy Word of God, and, also, from my
being misinformed of the nature of my sin.

185.  But oh!  how this would add to my affliction, to conceit that I
should be guilty of such a sin for which He did not die.  These thoughts
would so confound me, and imprison me, and tie me up from faith, that I
knew not what to do; but, oh!  I thought, that He would come down again!
Oh!  that the work of man’s redemption was yet to be done by Christ!
How would I pray Him and entreat Him to count and reckon this sin
amongst the rest for which He died!  But this scripture would strike me
down as dead, ‘Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death
hath no more dominion over him’ (Rom.  6.9).

186.  Thus, by the strange and unusual assaults of the tempter, was my
soul, like a broken vessel, driven as with the winds, and tossed
sometimes headlong into despair, sometimes upon the covenant of works,
and sometimes to wish that the new covenant, and the conditions thereof,
might, so far forth as I thought myself concerned, be turned another way
and changed.  But in all these I was but as those that justle against
the rocks; more broken, scattered, and rent.  Oh, the unthought of
imaginations, frights, fears, and terrors that are affected by a
thorough application of guilt, yielded to desperation!  this is the man
that hath ‘his dwelling among the tombs’ with the dead; that is, always
crying out and ‘cutting himself with stones’ (Mark 5.  2-5). But I say,
all in vain; desperation will not comfort him, the old covenant will not
save him; nay, heaven and earth shall pass away before one jot or tittle
of the Word and law of grace shall fall or be removed.  This I saw, this
I felt, and under this I groaned; yet this advantage I got thereby,
namely, a further confirmation of the certainty of the way of salvation,
and that the Scriptures were the Word of God!  Oh!  I cannot now express
what then I saw and felt of the steadiness of Jesus Christ, the rock of
man’s salvation; what was done could not be undone, added to, nor
altered.  I saw, indeed, that sin might drive the soul beyond Christ,
even the sin which is unpardonable; but woe to him that was so driven,
for the Word would shut him out.

187.  Thus was I always sinking, whatever I did think or do.  So one
day I walked to a neighbouring town, and sat down upon a settle in the
street, and fell into a very deep pause about the most fearful state my
sin had brought me to; and, after long musing, I lifted up my head, but
methought I saw as if the sun that shineth in the heavens did grudge to
give light, and as if the very stones in the street, and tiles upon the
houses, did bend themselves against me; methought that they all combined
together to banish me out of the world; I was abhorred of them, and
unfit to dwell among them, or be partaker of their benefits, because I
had sinned against the Saviour.  O how happy, now, was every creature
over what I was; for they stood fast and kept their station, but I was
gone and lost.

188.  Then breaking out in the bitterness of my soul, I said to myself,
with a grievous sigh, How can God comfort such a wretch as I? I had no
sooner said it but this returned upon me, as an echo doth answer a
voice, This sin is not unto death.  At which I was as if I had been
raised out of a grave, and cried out again, Lord, how couldest Thou find
out such a word as this?  for I was filled with admiration at the
fitness, and, also, at the unexpectedness of the sentence, the fitness
of the word, the rightness of the timing of it, the power, and
sweetness, and light, and glory that came with it, was marvellous to me
to find.  I was now, for the time, out of doubt as to that about which I
so much was in doubt before; my fears before were, that my sin was not
pardonable, and so that I had no right to pray, to repent, etc., or that
if I did, it would be of no advantage or profit to me.  But now, thought
I, if this sin is not unto death, then it is pardonable; therefore, from
this I have encouragement to come to God, by Christ, for mercy, to
consider the promise of forgiveness as that which stands with open arms
to receive me, as well as others.  This, therefore, was a great easement
to my mind; to wit, that my sin was pardonable, that it was not the sin
unto death (1 John 5.16, 17). None but those that know what my trouble,
by their own experience, was, can tell what relief came to my soul by
this consideration; it was a release to me from my former bonds, and a
shelter from my former storm.  I seemed now to stand upon the same
ground with other sinners, and to have as good right to the word and
prayer as any of them.

189.  Now, I say, I was in hopes that my sin was not unpardonable, but
that there might be hopes for me to obtain forgiveness.  But oh, how
Satan did now lay about him for to bring me down again!  But he could by
no means do it, neither this day nor the most part of the next, for this
sentence stood like a mill-post at my back; yet, towards the evening of
the next day, I felt this word begin to leave me and to withdraw its
supportation from me, and so I returned to my old fears again, but with
a great deal of grudging and peevishness, for I feared the sorrow of
despair; nor could my faith now longer retain this word.

190.  But the next day, at evening, being under many fears, I went to
seek the Lord; and as I prayed, I cried, and my soul cried to Him in
these words, with strong cries: O Lord, I beseech thee, show me that
thou hast loved me with everlasting love (Jer.  31.3). I had no sooner
said it but, with sweetness, this returned upon me, as an echo or
sounding again, ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love.’  Now I
went to bed at quiet; also, when I awaked the next morning, it was fresh
upon my soul-and I believed it.

191.  But yet the tempter left me not; for it could not be so little as
an hundred times that he that day did labour to break my peace.  Oh!
the combats and conflicts that I did then meet with as I strove to hold
by this word; that of Esau would fly in my face like to lightning.  I
should be sometimes up and down twenty times in an hour, yet God did
bear me up and keep my heart upon this world, from which I had also, for
several days together, very much sweetness and comfortable hopes of
pardon; for thus it was made out to me, I loved thee whilst thou wast
committing this sin, I loved thee before, I love thee still, and I will
love thee for ever.

192.  Yet I saw my sin most barbarous, and a filthy crime, and could
not but conclude, and that with great shame and astonishment, that I had
horribly abused the holy Son of God; wherefore, I felt my soul greatly
to love and pity Him, and my bowels to yearn towards Him; for I saw He
was still my Friend, and did reward me good for evil; yea, the love and
affection that then did burn within to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
did work, at this time, such a strong and hot desire of revengement upon
myself for the abuse I had done unto him, that, to speak as I then
thought, had I a thousand gallons of blood within my veins, I could
freely then have spilt it all at the command and feet of this my Lord
and Saviour.

193.  And as I was thus in musing and in my studies, considering how to
love the Lord and to express my love to Him, that saying came in upon
me, ‘If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, 0 Lord, who shall stand?
But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared’ (Ps.
130.3, 4). These were good words to me, especially the latter part
thereof; to wit, that there is forgiveness with the Lord, that He might
be feared; that is, as then I understood it, that He might be loved and
had in reverence; for it was thus made out to me, that the great God did
set so high an esteem upon the love of His poor creatures, that rather
than He would go without their love He would pardon their
transgressions.

194.  And now was that word fulfilled on me, and I was also refreshed
by it, Then shall they be ashamed and confounded, ‘and never open their
mouth any more because of their shame, when I am pacified towards them
for all that they have done, saith the Lord God’ (Ezek.  16.63). Thus
was my soul at this time, and, as I then did think, for ever, set at
liberty from being again afflicted with my former guilt and amazement.

195.  But before many weeks were over I began to despond again, fearing
lest, notwithstanding all that I had enjoyed, that yet I might be
deceived and destroyed at the last; for this consideration came strong
into my mind, that whatever comfort and peace I thought I might have
from the word of the promise of life, yet unless there could be found in
my refreshment a concurrence and agreement in the Scriptures, let me
think what I will thereof, and hold it never so fast, I should find no
such thing at the end; ‘for the Scripture cannot be broken’ (John
10.35).

196.  Now began my heart again to ache and fear I might meet with
disappointment at the last, wherefore I began, with all seriousness, to
examine my former comfort, and to consider whether one that had sinned
as I have done, might with confidence trust upon the faithfulness of
God, laid down in those words by which I had been comforted and on which
I had leaned myself.  But now were brought those sayings to my mind,
‘For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have
tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to
come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance’
(Heb.  6.4-6). ‘For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the
knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but
a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which
shall devour the adversaries’ (Heb.  10.26, 27). Even ‘as Esau, who for
one morsel of meat sold his birthright; for ye know how that afterward,
when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found
no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears’ (Heb.
12.16, 17) .

197.  Now was the word of the gospel forced from my soul, so that no
promise or encouragement was to be found in the Bible for me; and now
would that saying work upon my spirit to afflict me, ‘Rejoice not, O
Israel, for joy as other people’ (Hos.  9.1). For I saw indeed there was
cause of rejoicing for those that held to Jesus; but as for me, I had
cut myself off by my transgressions, and left myself neither foot-hold,
nor hand-hold, amongst all the stays and props in the precious word of
life.

198.  And truly I did now feel myself to sink into a gulf, as an house
whose foundation is destroyed; I did liken myself, in this condition,
unto the case of a child that was fallen into a mill-pit, who, though it
could make some shift to scrabble and spraul in the water, yet because
it could find neither hold for hand nor foot, therefore at last it must
die in that condition.  So soon as this fresh assault had fastened on my
soul, that scripture came into my heart, ‘This is for many days’ (Dan.
10.14). And indeed I found it was so; for I could not be delivered, nor
brought to peace again, until well-nigh two years and an half were
completely finished.  Wherefore these words, though in themselves they
tended to discouragement, yet to me, who feared this condition would be
eternal, they were at sometimes as an help and refreshment to me.

199.  For, thought I, many days are not for ever, many days will have
an end, therefore seeing I was to be afflicted, not a few, but many
days, yet I was glad it was but for many days.  Thus, I say, I could
recall myself sometimes, and give myself a help, for as soon as ever the
words came into my mind at first, I knew my trouble would be long; yet
this would be but sometimes, for I could not always think on this, nor
ever be helped by it, though I did.

200.  Now while these scriptures lay before me, and laid sin anew at my
door, that saying in the eighteeneth of Luke, with others, did encourage
me to prayer.  Then the tempter again laid at me very sore, suggesting,
That neither the mercy of God, nor yet the blood of Christ, did at all
concern me, nor could they help me for my sin; therefore it was in vain
to pray.  Yet, thought I, I will pray.  But, said the tempter, your sin
is unpardonable.  Well, said I, I will pray.  It is to no boot, said he.
Yet, said I, I will pray.  So I went to prayer to God; and while I was
at prayer, I uttered words to this effect, Lord, Satan tells me that
neither Thy mercy, nor Christ’s blood, is sufficient to save my soul;
Lord, shall I honour Thee most, by believing Thou wilt and canst?  or
him, by believing Thou neither wilt nor canst?  Lord, I would fain
honour Thee, by believing Thou wilt and canst.

201.  And as I was thus before the Lord, that scripture fastened on my
heart, ‘O woman, great is thy faith’ (Matt.  15.28), even as if one had
clapped me on the back, as I was on my knees before God.  Yet I was not
able to believe this, that this was a prayer of faith, till almost six
months after; for I could not think that I had faith, or that there
should be a word for me to act faith on; therefore I should still be as
sticking in the jaws of desperation, and went mourning up and down in a
sad condition, crying, Is His mercy clean gone?  Is His mercy clean gone
for ever?  And I thought sometimes, even when I was groaning in these
expressions, they did seem to make a question whether it was or no; yet
I greatly feared it was.

202.  There was nothing now that I longed for more than to be put out
of doubt, as to this thing in question; and, as I was vehemently
desiring to know if there was indeed hopes for me, these words came
rolling into my mind, ‘Will the Lord cast off for ever?  and will he be
favourable no more?  Is his mercy clean gone for ever?  Doth his promise
fail for evermore?  Hath God forgotten to be gracious?  Hath he in anger
shut up his tender mercies?’  (Ps.  77.7-9). And all the while they run
in my mind, methought I had this still as the answer, It is a question
whether He had or no; it may be He hath not.  Yea, the interrogatory
seemed to me to carry in it a sure affirmation that indeed He had not,
nor would so cast off, but would be favourable; that His promise doth
not fail, and that He had not forgotten to be gracious, nor would in
anger shut up His tender mercy.  Something, also, there was upon my
heart at the same time, which I now cannot call to mind; which, with
this text, did sweeten my heart, and made me conclude that His mercy
might not be quite gone, nor clean gone for ever.

203.  At another time, I remember I was again much under the question,
Whether the blood of Christ was sufficient to save my soul?  In which
doubt I continued from morning till about seven or eight at night: and
at last, when I was, as it were, quite worn out with fear, lest it
should not lay hold on me, these words did sound suddenly within my
heart, He is able.  But methought this word scaps able was spoke so loud
unto me; it showed such a great word, it seemed to be writ in great
letters, and gave such a justle to my fear and doubt; I mean for the
time it tarried with me, which was about a day, as I never had from that
all my life, either before or after that (Heb.  7.25).

204.  But one morning, when I was again at prayer, and trembling under
the fear of this, that no word of God could help me, that piece of a
sentence darted in upon me, ‘My grace is sufficient.’  At this methought
I felt some stay, as if there might be hopes.  But, oh, how good a thing
it is for God to send His word!  For about a fortnight before I was
looking on this very place, and then I thought it could not come near my
soul with comfort, therefore I threw down my book in a pet.  Then I
thought it was not large enough for me; no, not large enough; but now,
it was as if it had arms of grace so wide that it could not only enclose
me, but many more besides.

205.  By these words I was sustained, yet not without exceeding
conflicts, for the space of seven or eight weeks; for my peace would be
in and out, sometimes twenty times a day; comfort now, and trouble
presently; peace now, and before I could go a furlong as full of fear
and guilt as ever heart could hold; and this was not only now and then,
but my whole seven weeks’ experience; for this about the sufficiency of
grace, and that of Esau’s parting with his birthright, would be like a
pair of scales within my mind, sometimes one end would be uppermost, and
sometimes again the other; according to which would be my peace or
trouble.

206.  Therefore I still did pray to God, that He would come in with
this scripture more fully on my heart; to wit, that He would help me to
apply the whole sentence, for as yet I could not: that He gave, I
gathered; but farther I could not go, for as yet it only helped me to
hope there might be mercy for me, ‘My grace is sufficient’; and though
it came no farther, it answered my former question; to wit, that there
was hope; yet, because ‘for thee’ was left out, I was not contented, but
prayed to God for that also.  Wherefore, one day, as I was in a meeting
of God’s people, full of sadness and terror, for my fears again were
strong upon me; and as I was now thinking my soul was never the better;
but my case most sad and fearful, these words did, with great power,
suddenly break in upon me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee, my grace is
sufficient for thee, my grace is sufficient for thee,’ three times
together; and, oh!  methought that every word was a mighty word unto me;
as my, and grace, and sufficient, and for thee; they were then, and
sometimes are still, far bigger than others be.

207.  At which time my understanding was so enlightened, that I was as
though I had seen the Lord Jesus look down from heaven through the tiles
upon me, and direct these words unto me.  This sent me mourning home, it
broke my heart, and filled me full of joy, and laid me low as the dust;
only it stayed not long with me, I mean in this glory and refreshing
comfort, yet it continued with me for several weeks, and did encourage
me to hope.  But so soon as that powerful operation of it was taken off
my heart, that other about Esau returned upon me as before; so my soul
did hang as in a pair of scales again, sometimes up and sometimes down,
now in peace, and anon again in terror.

208.  Thus I went on for many weeks, sometimes comforted, and sometimes
tormented; and, especially at some times, my torment would be very sore,
for all those scriptures forenamed in the Hebrews, would be set before
me, as the only sentences that would keep me out of heaven.  Then,
again, I should begin to repent that ever that thought went through me,
I should also think thus with myself, Why, how many scriptures are there
against me?  There are but three or four: and cannot God miss them, and
save me for all of them?  Sometimes, again, I should think, Oh!  if it
were not for these three or four words, now how I might be comforted?
And I could hardly forbear, at some times, but to wish them out of the
book.

209.  Then methought I should see as if both Peter, and Paul, and John,
and all the writers, did look with scorn upon me, and hold me in
derision; and as if they said unto me, All our words are truth, one of
as much force as another.  It is not we that have cut you off, but you
have cast away yourself; there is none of our sentences that you must
take hold upon but these, and such as these: ‘It is impossible; there
remains no more sacrifice for sin’ (Heb.  6). And ‘it had been better
for them not to have known’ the will of God, ‘than, after they have
known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them’ (II
Pet.  2.21). ‘For the Scriptures cannot be broken.’

210.  These, as the elders of the city of refuge, I saw were to be the
judges both of my case and me, while I stood, with the avenger of blood
at my heels, trembling at their gate for deliverance, also with a
thousand fears and mistrusts, I doubted that they would shut me out for
ever (Josh.  20.3, 4).

211.  Thus was I confounded, not knowing what to do, nor how to be
satisfied in this question, Whether the scriptures could agree in the
salvation of my soul?  I quaked at the apostles, I knew their words were
true, and that they must stand for ever.

212.  And I remember one day, as I was in diverse frames of spirit, and
considering that these frames were still according to the nature of the
several scriptures that came in upon my mind; if this of grace, then was
I quiet; but if that of Esau, then tormented; Lord, thought I, if both
these scriptures would meet in my heart at once, I would which of them
would get the better of me.  So methought I had a longing mind that they
might come both together upon me; yea, I desired of God they might.

213.  Well, about two or three days after, so they did indeed; they
bolted both upon me at a time, and did work and struggle strangely in me
for a while; at last, that about Esau’s birthright began to wax weak,
and withdraw, and vanish and this about the sufficiency of grace
prevailed with peace and joy.  And as I was in a muse about this thing,
that scripture came home upon me, ‘Mercy rejoiceth against judgment’
(Jas.  2.13).

214.  This was a wonderment to me; yet truly I am apt to think it was
of God; for the word of the law and wrath must give place to the word of
life and grace; because, though the word of condemnation be glorious,
yet the word of life and salvation doth far exceed in glory (II Cor.
3.8-12; Mark 9.5-7). Also, that Moses and Elias must both vanish, and
leave Christ and His saints alone.

215.  This scripture did also most sweetly visit my soul, ‘And him that
cometh to me I will in no wise cast out’ (John 6.37). Oh, the comfort
that I have had from this word, ‘in no wise’! as who should say, by no
means, for no thing, whatever he hath done.  But Satan would greatly
labour to pull this promise from me, telling of me that Christ did not
mean me, and such as I, but sinners of a lower rank, that had not done
as I had done.  But I should answer him again, Satan, here is in this
word no such exception; but ‘him that comes’, scaps him, any him; ‘him
that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.’  And this I well remember
still, that of all the sleights that Satan used to take this scripture
from me, yet he never did so much as put this question, But do you come
aright?  And I have thought the reason was, because he thought I knew
full well what coming aright was; for I saw that to come aright was to
come as I was, a vile and ungodly sinner, and to cast myself at the feet
of mercy, condemning myself for sin.  If ever Satan and I did strive for
any word of God in all my life, it was for this good word of Christ; he
at one end and I at the other.  Oh, what work did we make!  It was for
this in John, I say, that we did so tug and strive; he pulled and I
pulled; but, God be praised, I got the better of him, I got some
sweetness from it.

216.  But notwithstanding all these helps and blessed words of grace,
yet that of Esau’s selling of his birthright would still at times
distress my conscience; for though I had been most sweetly comforted,
and that but just before, yet when that came into my mind, it would make
me fear again, I could not be quite rid thereof, it would every day be
with me: wherefore now I went another way to work, even to consider the
nature of this blasphemous thought; I mean, if I should take the words
at the largest, and give them their own natural force and scope, even
every word therein.  So when I had thus considered, I found, that if
they were fairly taken, they would amount to this, that I had freely
left the Lord Jesus Christ to His choice, whether He would be my Saviour
or no; for the wicked words were these, Let Him go if He will.  Then
that scripture gave me hope, ‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee’
(Heb.  13.5). O Lord, said I, but I have left Thee.  Then it answered
again, ‘But I will not leave thee.’  For this I thank God also.

217.  Yet I was grievously afraid He should, and found it exceedingly
hard to trust Him, seeing I had so offended Him.  I could have been
exceeding glad that this thought had never befallen, for then I thought
I could, with more ease and freedom in abundance, have leaned upon His
grace.  I see it was with me, as it was with Joseph’s brethren; the
guilt of their own wickedness did often fill them with fears that their
brother would at last despise them (Gen.  50.15-17).

218.  But above all the scriptures that I yet did meet with, that in
the twentieth of Joshua was the greatest comfort to me, which speaks of
the slayer that was to flee for refuge.  And if the avenger of blood
pursue the slayer, then, saith Moses, they that are the elders of the
city of refuge shall not deliver him into his hand, because he smote his
neighbour unwittingly, and hated him not aforetime.  Oh, blessed be God
for this word; I was convinced that I was the slayer; and that the
avenger of blood pursued me, that I felt with great terror; only now it
remained that I inquire whether I have right to enter the city of
refuge.  So I found that he must not, who lay in wait to shed blood: it
was not the wilful murderer, but he who unwittingly did it, he who did
unawares shed blood; not of spite, or grudge, or malice, he that shed it
unwittingly, even he who did not hate his neighbour before.  Wherefore:

219.  I thought verily I was the man that must enter, because I had
smitten my neighbour unwittingly, and hated him not aforetime.  I hated
Him not aforetime; no, I prayed unto Him, was tender of sinning against
Him; yea, and against this wicked temptation I had strove for a
twelvemonth before; yea, and also when it did pass through my heart, it
did in spite of my teeth: wherefore I thought I had right to enter this
city, and the elders, which are the apostles, were not to deliver me up.
This, therefore, was great comfort to me; and did give me much ground of
hope.

220.  Yet being very critical, for my smart had made me that I knew not
what ground was sure enough to bear me, I had one question that my soul
did much desire to be resolved about; and that was, Whether it be
possible for any soul that hath indeed sinned the unpardonable sin, yet
after that to receive though but the least true spiritual comfort from
God through Christ?  The which, after I had much considered, I found the
answer was, No, they could not, and that for these reasons:

221.  First, Because those that have sinned that sin, they are debarred
a share in the blood of Christ, and being shut out of that, they must
needs be void of the least ground of hope.  and so of spiritual comfort;
for to such ‘there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins’ (Heb 10.26).
Secondly, Because they are denied a share in the promise of life; they
shall never be forgiven, ‘neither in this world, neither in that which
is to come’ (Matt.  12.32). Thirdly, The Son of God excludes them also
from a share in His blessed intercession, being for ever ashamed to own
them both before His holy Father, and the blessed angels in heaven (Mark
8.38).

222.  When I had, with much deliberation, considered of this matter,
and could not but conclude that the Lord had comforted me, and that too
after this my wicked sin; then, methought, I durst venture to come nigh
into those most fearful and terrible scriptures, with which all this
while I had been so greatly affrighted, and on which, indeed, before I
durst scarce cast mine eye, yea, had much ado an hundred times to
forbear wishing them out of the Bible; for I thought they would destroy
me; but now, I say, I began to take some measure of encouragement to
come close to them, to read them, and consider them, and to weigh their
scope and tendency.

223.  The which, when I began to do, I found their visage changed; for
they looked not so grimly on me as before I thought they did.  And,
first, I came to the sixth of the Hebrews, yet trembling for fear it
should strike me; which when I had considered, I found that the falling
there intended was a falling quite away; that is, as I conceived, a
falling from, and an absolute denial of the gospel of remission of sins
by Christ; for from them the apostle begins his argument (ver.  1-3).
Secondly, I found that this falling away must be openly, even in the
view of the world, even so as ‘to put Christ to an open shame’. Thirdly,
I found that those he there intended were for ever shut up of God, both
in blindness, hardness, and impenitency: it is impossible they should be
renewed again unto repentance.  By all these particulars, I found, to
God’s everlasting praise, my sin was not the sin in this place intended.

First, I confessed I was fallen, but not fallen away, that is, from the
profession of faith in Jesus unto eternal life.  Secondly, I confessed
that I had put Jesus Christ to shame by my sin, but not to open shame; I
did not deny Him before men, nor condemn Him as a fruitless one before
the world.  Thirdly, Nor did I find that God had shut me up, or denied
me to come, though I found it hard work indeed to come to Him by sorrow
and repentance.  Blessed be God for unsearchable grace.

224.  Then I considered that in the tenth of the Hebrews, and found
that the wilful sin there mentioned is not every wilful sin, but that
which doth throw off Christ, and then His commandments too.  Secondly,
That must also be done openly, before two or three witnesses, to answer
that of the law ( ver.  28). Thirdly, This sin cannot be committed, but
with great despite done to the Spirit of grace; despising both the
dissuasions from that sin, and the persuasions to the contrary.  But the
Lord knows, though this my sin was devilish, yet it did not amount to
these.

225.  And as touching that in the twelfth of the Hebrews, about Esau’s
selling his birthright, though this was that which killed me, and stood
like a spear against me; yet now I did consider, First, That his was not
a hasty thought against the continual labour of his mind, but a thought
consented to and put in practice likewise, and that too after some
deliberation (Gen.  25). Secondly, it was a public and open action, even
before his brother, if not before many more; this made his sin of a far
more heinous nature than otherwise it would have been.  Thirdly, He
continued to slight his birthright: ‘He did eat and drink, and went his
way; thus Esau despised his birthright’ (ver.  34). Yea, twenty years
after, he was found to despise it still.  ‘And Esau said, I have enough,
my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself’ (Gen.  33.9).

226.  Now as touching this, that Esau sought a place of repentance;
thus I thought, first, This was not for the birthright, but for the
blessing; this is clear from the apostle, and is distinguished by Esau
himself; ‘He took away my birthright (that is, formerly); and behold,
now he hath taken away my blessing’ (Gen.  27.36). Secondly, Now, this
being thus considered, I came again to the apostle, to see what might be
the mind of God, in a New Testament style and sense, concerning Esau’s
sin; and so far as I could conceive, this was the mind of God, that the
birthright signified regeneration, and the blessing the eternal
inheritance; for so the apostle seems to hint, ‘Lest there be any
profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his
birthright’; as if he should say, Lest there be any person amongst you
that shall cast off all those blessed beginnings of God that at present
are upon him, in order to a new birth, lest they become as Esau, even be
rejected afterwards, when they would inherit the blessing.

227.  For many there are who, in the day of grace and mercy, despise
those things which are indeed the birthright to heaven, who yet, when
the deciding day appears, will cry as loud as Esau, ‘Lord, Lord, open to
us’; but then, as Isaac would not repent, no more will God the Father,
but will say, I have blessed these, yea, and they shall be blessed; but
as for you, depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity (Gen.  27.33;
Luke 13.25-27).

228.  When I had thus considered these scriptures, and found that thus
to understand them was not against, but according to other scriptures;
this still added further to my encouragement and comfort, and also gave
a great blow to that objection, to wit, that the scripture could not
agree in the salvation of my soul.  And now remained only the hinder
part of the tempest, for the thunder was gone beyond me, only some drops
did still remain, that now and then would fall upon me; but because my
former frights and anguish were very sore and deep, therefore it did oft
befal me still, as it befalleth those that have been scared with fire, I
thought every voice was Fire, fire; every little touch would hurt my
tender conscience.

229.  But one day, as I was passing in the field, and that too with
some dashes on my conscience, fearing lest yet all was not right,
suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, Thy righteousness is in
heaven; and methought withal, I saw, with the eyes of my soul, Jesus
Christ at God’s right hand; there, I say, is my righteousness; so that
wherever I was, or whatever I was a-doing, God could not say of me, He
wants my righteousness, for that was just before Him.  I also saw,
moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my
righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness
worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, the same
yesterday, and to-day, and for ever (Heb.  13.8).

230.  Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed, I was loosed from my
affliction and irons, my temptations had fled away; so that, from that
time, those dreadful scriptures of God left off to trouble me now; now
went I also home rejoicing, for the grace and love of God.  So when I
came home, I looked to see if I could find that sentence, Thy
righteousness is in heaven; but could not find such a saying, wherefore
my heart began to sink again, only that was brought to my remembrance,
He ‘of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and
sanctification, and redemption’ by this word I saw the other sentence
true (1 Cor.  1.30).

231.  For by this scripture, l saw that the man Christ Jesus, as He is
distinct from us, as touching His bodily presence, so He is our
righteousness and sanctification before God.  Here, therefore, I lived
for some time, very sweetly at peace with God through Christ; Oh,
methought, Christ!  Christ!  there was nothing but Christ that was
before my eyes, I was not only for looking upon this and the other
benefits of Christ apart, as of His blood, burial, or resurrection, but
considered Him as a whole Christ!  As He in whom all these, and all
other His virtues, relations, offices, and operations met together, and
that as He sat on the right hand of God in heaven.

232.  It was glorious to me to see His exaltation, and the worth and
prevalency of all His benefits, and that because of this: now I could
look from myself to Him, and should reckon that all those graces of God
that now were green in me, were yet but like those cracked groats and
fourpence-halfpennies that rich men carry in their purses, when their
gold is in their trunks at home!  Oh, I saw my gold was in my trunk at
home!  In Christ, my Lord and Saviour!  Now Christ was all; all my
wisdom, all my righteousness, all my sanctification, and all my
redemption.

233.  Further, the Lord did also lead me into the mystery of union with
the Son of God, that I was joined to Him, that I was flesh of His flesh,
and bone of His bone, and now was that a sweet word to me in Eph.  5.30.
By this also was my faith in Him, as my righteousness, the more
confirmed to me; for if He and I were one, then His righteousness was
mine, His merits mine, His victory also mine.  Now could I see myself in
heaven and earth at once; in heaven by my Christ, by my head, by my
righteousness and life, though on earth by my body or person.

234.  Now I saw Christ Jesus was looked on of God, and should also be
looked on by us, as that common or public person, in whom all the whole
body of His elect are always to be considered and reckoned; that we
fulfilled the law by Him, rose from the dead by Him, got the victory
over sin, death, the devil, and hell, by Him; when He died, we died; and
so of His resurrection.  ‘Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead
body shall they arise,’ saith he (Isa.  26.19). And again, ‘After two
days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we
shall live in his sight’ (Hos.  6.2); which is now fulfilled by the
sitting down of the Son of Man on the right hand of the Majesty in the
heavens, according to that to the Ephesians, He ‘hath raised us up
together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’
(Eph.  2.6).

235.  Ah, these blessed considerations and scriptures, with many others
of a like nature, were in those days made to spangle in mine eyes, so
that I have cause to say, ‘Praise ye the Lord.  Praise God in his
sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.  Praise him for his
mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness’ (Ps.
150.1, 2).

236.  Having thus, in few words, given you a taste of the sorrow and
affliction that my soul went under, by the guilt and terror that this my
wicked thought did lay me under; and having given you also a touch of my
deliverance therefrom, and of the sweet and blessed comfort that I met
with afterwards, which comfort dwelt about a twelvemonth with my heart,
to my unspeakable admiration; I will now, God willing, before I proceed
any farther, give you in a word or two, what, as I conceive, was the
cause of this temptation; and also after that, what advantage, at the
last, it became unto my soul.

237.  For the causes, I conceived they were principally two: of which
two I also was deeply convinced all the time this trouble lay upon me.
The first was, for that I did not, when I was delivered from the
temptation that went before, still pray to God to keep me from
temptations that were to come; for though, as I can say in truth, my
soul was much in prayer before this trial seized me, yet then I prayed
only, or at the most, principally for the removal of present troubles,
and for fresh discoveries of His love in Christ, which I saw afterwards
was not enough to do; I also should have prayed that the great God would
keep me from the evil that was to come.

238.  Of this I was made deeply sensible by the prayer of holy David,
who, when he was under present mercy, yet prayed that God would hold him
back from sin and temptation to come; ‘Then,’ saith he, ‘shall I be
upright, I shall be innocent from the scaps great transgression’ (Ps.
19.13). By this very word was I galled and condemned, quite through this
long temptation.

239.  That also was another word that did much condemn me for my folly,
in the neglect of this duty (Heb 4.16), ‘Let us therefore come boldly
unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to
help in time of need.’  This I had not done, and therefore was suffered
thus to sin and fall, according to what is written, ‘Pray that ye enter
not into temptation.’  And truly this very thing is to this day of such
weight and awe upon me, that I dare not, when I come before the Lord, go
off my knees, until I entreat Him for help and mercy against the
temptations that are to come; and I do beseech thee, reader, that thou
learn to beware of my negligence, by the affliction that for this thing
I did for days, and months, and years, with sorrow undergo.

240.  Another cause of this temptation was, that I had tempted God; and
on this manner did I do it.  Upon a time my wife was great with child,
and before her full time was come, her pangs, as of a woman in travail,
were fierce and strong upon her, even as if she would have immediately
fallen in labour, and been delivered of an untimely birth.  Now, at this
very time it was that I had been so strongly tempted to question the
being of God, wherefore, as my wife lay crying by me, I said, but with
all secrecy imaginable, even thinking in my heart, Lord, if thou wilt
now remove this sad affliction from my wife, and cause that she be
troubled no more therewith this night, and now were her pangs just upon
her, then I shall know that thou canst discern the most secret thoughts
of the heart.

241.  I had no sooner said it in my heart, but her pangs were taken
from her, and she was cast into a deep sleep, and so she continued till
morning; at this I greatly marvelled, not knowing what to think; but
after I had been awake a good while, and heard her cry no more, I fell
to sleeping also.  So when I waked in the morning, it came upon me
again, even what I had said in my heart the last night, and how the Lord
had showed me that He knew my secret thoughts, which was a great
astonishment unto me for several weeks after.

242.  Well, about a year and a half afterwards, that wicked sinful
thought, of which I have spoken before, went through my wicked heart,
even this thought, Let Christ go if He will; so when I was fallen under
guilt for this, the remembrance of my other thought, and of the effect
thereof, would also come upon me with this retort, which also carried
rebuke along with it, Now you may see that God doth know the most secret
thoughts of the heart.

243.  And with this, that of the passages that were betwixt the Lord
and His servant Gideon fell upon my spirit; how because that Gideon
tempted God with his fleece, both wet and dry, when he should have
believed and ventured upon his words, therefore the Lord did afterwards
so try him, as to send him against an innumerable company of enemies;
and that too, as to outward appearance, without any strength or help
(Judg.  6, 7). Thus He served me, and that justly, for I should have
believed His word, and not have put an scaps if upon the all-seeingness
of God.

244.  And now to show you something of the advantages that I also
gained by this temptation; and first, By this I was made continually to
possess in my soul a very wonderful sense both of the being and glory of
God, and of His beloved Son; in the temptation that went before, my soul
was perplexed with unbelief, blasphemy, hardness of heart, questions
about the being of God, Christ, the truth of the Word, and certainty of
the world to come; I say, then I was greatly assaulted and tormented
with atheism; but now the case was otherwise, now was God and Christ
continually before my face, though not in a way of comfort, but in a way
of exceeding dread and terror.  The glory of the holiness of God did at
this time break me to pieces; and the bowels and compassion of Christ
did break me as on the wheel; for I could not consider Him but as a lost
and rejected Christ, the remembrance of which was as the continual
breaking of my bones.

245.  The Scriptures now also were wonderful things unto me; I saw that
the truth and verity of them were the keys of the kingdom of heaven;
those that the Scriptures favour they must inherit bliss, but those that
they oppose and condemn must perish evermore.  Oh!  this word, ‘For the
Scriptures cannot be broken,’ would rend the caul of my heart; and so
would that other, ‘Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto
them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.’  Now I saw
the apostles to be the elders of the city of refuge (Josh.  20.4), those
that they were to receive in, were received to life; but those that they
shut out were to be slain by the avenger of blood.

246.  Oh!  one sentence of the Scripture did more afflict and terrify
my mind, I mean those sentences that stood against me, as sometimes I
thought they every one did, more, I say, than an army of forty thousand
men that might have come against me.  Woe be to him against whom the
Scriptures bend themselves.

247.  By this temptation I was made to see more into the nature of the
promises than ever I was before; for I lying now trembling under the
mighty hand of God, continually torn and rent by the thunderings of His
justice; this made me, with careful heart and watchful eye, with great
seriousness, to turn over every leaf, and with much diligence, mixed
with trembling, to consider every sentence, together with its natural
force and latitude.

248.  By this temptation, also, I was greatly beaten off my former
foolish practice, of putting by the word of promise when it came into my
mind; for now, though I could not suck that comfort and sweetness from
the promise as I had done at other times, yea, like to a man a-sinking,
I should catch at all I saw; formerly I thought I might not meddle with
the promise unless I felt its comfort, but now it was no time thus to
do, the avenger of blood too hardly did pursue me.

249.  Now therefore I was glad to catch at that word, which yet I
feared I had no ground or right to own; and even to leap into the bosom
of that promise, that yet I feared did shut its heart against me.  Now
also I should labour to take the Word as God had laid it down, without
restraining the natural force of one syllable thereof.  O what did I now
see in that blessed sixth of John, ‘And him that cometh to me I will in
no wise cast out’ (ver.  37). Now I began to consider with myself, that
God had a bigger mouth to speak with than I had heart to conceive with.
I thought also with myself that He spake not His words in haste, or in
unadvised heat, but with infinite wisdom and judgment, and in very truth
and faithfulness.

250.  I should in these days, often in my greatest agonies, even
flounce towards the promise, as the horses do towards sound ground that
yet stick in the mire, concluding, though as one almost bereft of his
wits through fear, on this I will rest and stay, and leave the
fulfilling of it to the God of heaven that made it.  Oh!  many a pull
hath my heart had with Satan for that sixth of John.  I did not now, as
at other times, look principally for comfort, though, O how welcome
would it have been unto me!  But now a word, a word to lean a weary soul
upon, that I might not sink for ever!  it was that I hunted for.

251.  Yea, often when I have been making to the promise, I have seen as
if the Lord would refuse my soul for ever.  I was often as if I had run
upon the pikes, and as if the Lord had thrust at me to keep me from Him
as with a flaming sword.  Then I should think of Esther, who went to
petition the king contrary to the law (Esth 4.16). I thought also of
Benhadad’s servants, who went with ropes upon their heads to their
enemies for mercy (1 Kings 20.31). The woman of Canaan also, that would
not be daunted, though called dog by Christ (Matt.  15.21-8); and the
man that went to borrow bread at midnight (Luke 11.5-8), were great
encouragements unto me.

252.  I never saw those heights and depths in grace, and love, and
mercy, as I saw after this temptation.  Great sins to draw out great
grace; and where guilt is most terrible and fierce there the mercy of
God in Christ, when showed to the soul, appears most high and mighty.
When Job had passed through his captivity, he had ‘twice as much as he
had before’ (Job 42.10). Blessed be God for Jesus Christ our Lord.  Many
other things I might here make observation of, but I would be brief, and
therefore shall at this time omit them, and do pray God that my harms
may make others fear to offend, lest they also be made to bear the iron
yoke as I did.

I had two or three times, at or about my deliverance from this
temptation, such strange apprehensions of the grace of God, that I could
hardly bear up under it, it was so out of measure amazing, when I
thought it could reach me, that I do think, if that sense of it had
abode long upon me, it would have made me incapable for business.

253.  Now I shall go forward to give you a relation of other of the
Lord’s leadings with me, of His dealings with me at sundry other
seasons, and of the temptations I then did meet withal.  I shall begin
with what I met when I first did join in fellowship with the people of
God in Bedford.  After I had propounded to the church that my desire was
to walk in the order and ordinances of Christ with them, and was also
admitted by them; while I thought of that blessed ordinance of Christ,
which was His last supper with His disciples before His death, that
scripture, ‘This do in remembrance of me’ (Luke 22.19), was made a very
precious word unto me; for by it the Lord did come down upon my
conscience with the discovery of His death for my sins; and as I then
felt, did as if He plunged me in the virtue of the same.  But, behold, I
had not been long a partaker at that ordinance, but such fierce and sad
temptations did attend me at all times therein, both to blaspheme the
ordinance, and to wish some deadly thing to those that then did eat
thereof; that, lest I should at any time be guilty of consenting to
these wicked and fearful thoughts, I was forced to bend myself all the
while to pray to God to keep me from such blasphemies; and also to cry
to God to bless the bread and cup to them as it went from mouth to
mouth.  The reason of this temptation I have thought since was, because
I did not, with that reverence as became me, at first approach to
partake thereof.

254.  Thus I continued for three-quarters of a year, and could never
have rest nor ease; but at last the Lord came in upon my soul with that
same scripture by which my soul was visited before; and after that I
have been usually very well and comfortable in the partaking of that
blessed ordinance, and have, I trust, therein discerned the Lord’s body
as broken for my sins, and that His precious blood hath been shed for my
transgressions.

255.  Upon a time I was somewhat inclining to a consumption, wherewith,
about the spring, I was suddenly and violently seized with much weakness
in my outward man, insomuch that I thought I could not live.  Now began
I afresh to give myself up to a serious examination after my state and
condition for the future, and of my evidences for that blessed world to
come; for it hath, I bless the name of God, been my usual course, as
always, so especially in the day of affliction, to endeavour to keep my
interest in the life to come clear before my eye.

256.  But I had no sooner began to recall to mind my former experience
of the goodness of God to my soul, but there came flocking into my mind
an innumerable company of my sins and transgressions, amongst which
these were at this time most to my affliction, namely, my deadness,
dulness, and coldness in holy duties; my wanderings of heart, of my
wearisomeness in all good things, my want of love to God, His ways, and
people, with this at the end of all, Are these the fruits of
Christianity?  are these the tokens of a blessed man?

257.  At the apprehension of these things my sickness was doubled upon
me, for now was I sick in my inward man, my soul was clogged with guilt;
now also was my former experience of God’s goodness to me quite taken
out of my mind, and hid as if it had never been, nor seen.  Now was my
soul greatly pinched between these two considerations.  Live I must not,
Die I dare not; now I sunk and fell in my spirit; and was giving up all
for lost; but as I was walking up and down in the house, as a man in a
most woeful state, that word of God took hold of my heart, Ye are
‘justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ
Jesus’ (Rom.  3.24). But oh, what a turn it made upon me!

258.  Now was I as one awakened out of some troublesome sleep and
dream, and listening to this heavenly sentence, I was as if I had heard
it thus expounded to me: Sinner, thou thinkest that because of thy sins
and infirmities I cannot save thy soul, but behold My Son is by Me, and
upon Him I look, and not on thee, and will deal with thee according as I
am pleased with Him.  At this I was greatly lightened in my mind, and
made to understand that God could justify a sinner at any time; it was
but His looking upon Christ, and imputing of His benefits to us, and the
work was forthwith done.

259.  And as I was thus in a muse, that scripture also came with great
power upon my spirit, ‘Not by works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to his mercy he saved us,’ etc.  (Tit.  3.5; II Tim.
1.9). Now was I got on high; I saw myself within the arms of grace and
mercy; and though I was before afraid to think of a dying hour, yet now
I cried, Let me die.  Now death was lovely and beautiful in my sight;
for I saw we shall never live indeed till we be gone to the other world.
Oh, methought this life is but a slumber in comparison of that above; at
this time also I saw more in those words, ‘Heirs of God’ (Rom.  8.17),
than ever I shall be able to express while I live in this world.  ‘Heirs
of God’! God Himself is the portion of the saints.  This I saw and
wondered at, but cannot tell you what I saw.

260.  Again, as I was at another time very ill and weak, all that time
also the tempter did beset me strongly, for I find he is much for
assaulting the soul when it begins to approach towards the grave, then
is his opportunity, labouring to hide from me my former experience of
God’s goodness; also setting before me the terrors of death and the
judgment of God, insomuch that at this time, through my fear of
miscarrying for ever, should I now die, I was as one dead before death
came, and was as if I had felt myself already descending into the pit;
methought, I said, there was no way, but to hell I must; but behold,
just as I was in the midst of those fears, these words of the angels
carrying Lazarus into Abraham’s bosom darted in upon me, as who should
say, So it shall be with thee when thou dost leave this world.  This did
sweetly revive my spirit, and help me to hope in God; which, when I had
with comfort mused on a while, that word fell with great weight upon my
mind, ‘O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?’  (1
Cor.  15.55). At this I became both well in body and mind at once, for
my sickness did presently vanish, and I walked comfortably in my work
for God again.

261.  At another time, though just before I was pretty well and savoury
in my spirit, yet suddenly there fell upon me a great cloud of darkness,
which did so hide from me the things of God and Christ, that I was as if
I had never seen or known them in my life; was also so overrun in my
soul, with a senseless, heartless frame of spirit, that I could not feel
my soul to move or stir after grace and life by Christ; I was as if my
loins were broken, or as if my hands and feet had been tied or bound
with chains.  At this time also I felt some weakness to seize upon my
outward man, which made still the other affliction the more heavy and
uncomfortable to me.

262.  After I had been in this condition some three or four days, as I
was sitting by the fire, I suddenly felt this word to sound in my heart,
I must go to Jesus; at this my former darkness and atheism fled away,
and the blessed things of heaven were set within my view.  While I was
on this sudden thus overtaken with surprise, Wife, said I, is there ever
such a scripture, I must go to Jesus?  She said she could not tell,
therefore I sat musing still to see if I could remember such a place; I
had not sat above two or three minutes but that came bolting in upon me,
‘And to an innumerable company of angels,’ and withal, Hebrews the
twelfth, about the mount Sion, was set before mine eyes (ver.  22-4).

263.  Then with joy I told my wife, O now I know, I know!  But that
night was a good night to me, I never had but few better; I longed for
the company of some of God’s people that I might have imparted unto them
what God had showed me.  Christ was a precious Christ to my soul that
night; I could scarce lie in my bed for joy, and peace, and triumph,
through Christ; this great glory did not continue upon me until morning,
yet that twelfth of the author of (Hebrews 12:22-4) was a blessed
scripture to me for many days together after this.

264.  The words are these, ‘Ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the
city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable
company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn,
which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the
spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new
covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things
than that of Abel.’  Through this blessed sentence the Lord led me over
and over, first to this word, and then to that, and showed me wonderful
glory in every one of them.  These words also have oft since this time
been great refreshment to my spirit.  Blessed be God in having mercy on
me.

A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE AUTHOR’S CALL TO THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY

265.  And now I am speaking my experience, I will in this place thrust
in a word or two concerning my preaching the Word, and of God’s dealing
with me in that particular also.  For after I had been about five or six
years awakened, and helped myself to see both the want and worth of
Jesus Christ our Lord, and also enabled to venture my soul upon Him,
some of the most able among the saints with us, I say the most able for
judgment and holiness of life, as they conceived, did perceive that God
had counted me worthy to understand something of His will in His holy
and blessed Word, and had given me utterance, in some measure, to
express what I saw to others for edification; therefore they desired me,
and that with much earnestness, that I would be willing, at sometimes,
to take in hand, in one of the meetings, to speak a word of exhortation
unto them.

266.  The which, though at the first it did much dash and abash my
spirit, yet being still by them desired and intreated, I consented to
their request, and did twice at two several assemblies, but in private,
though with much weakness and infirmity, discover my gift amongst them;
at which they not only seemed to be, but did solemnly protest, as in the
sight of the great God, they were both affected and comforted, and gave
thanks to the Father of mercies for the grace bestowed on me.

267.  After this, sometimes when some of them did go into the country to
teach, they would also that I should go with them; where, though as yet
I did not, nor durst not, make use of my gift in an open way, yet more
privately still as I came amongst the good people in those places, I did
sometimes speak a word of admonition unto them also; the which, they as
the other received, with rejoicing at the mercy of God to meward,
professing their souls were edified thereby.

268.  Wherefore, to be brief, at last, being still desired by the
church, after some solemn prayer to the Lord, with fasting, I was more
particularly called forth, and appointed to a more ordinary and public
preaching of the Word, not only to, and amongst them that believed, but
also to offer the gospel to those who had not yet received the faith
thereof; about which time I did evidently find in my mind a secret
pricking forward thereto; though I bless God, not for desire of vain
glory, for at that time I was most sorely afflicted with the fiery darts
of the devil concerning my eternal state.

269.  But yet could not be content, unless I was found in the exercise
of my gift, unto which I was greatly animated, not only by the continual
desires of the godly, but also by that saying of Paul to the
Corinthians, ‘I beseech you, brethren (ye know the household of
Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have
addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints), that ye submit
yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and
laboureth’ (I Cor.  16.15, 16) .

270.  By this text I was made to see that the Holy Ghost never intended
that men who have gifts and abilities should bury them in the earth, but
rather did command and stir up such to the exercise of their gift, and
also did commend those that were apt and ready so to do, ‘They have
addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.’  This scripture, in
these days, did continually run in my mind, to encourage me and
strengthen me in this work for God; I have also been encouraged from
several other scriptures and examples of the godly, both specified in
the Word and other ancient histories (Act.  8.4; 18.24, 25; 1 Pet.
4.10; Rom.  12.6; Foxe’s Acts and Mounments).

271.  Wherefore, though of myself of all the saints the most unworthy,
yet I, but with great fear and trembling at the sight of my own
weakness, did set upon the work, and did according to my gift, and the
proportion of my faith, preach that blessed gospel that God had showed
me in the holy Word of truth; which, when the country understood, they
came in to hear the Word by hundreds, and that from all parts, though
upon sundry and divers accounts.

272.  And I thank God He gave unto me some measure of bowels and pity
for their souls, which also did put me forward to labour with great
diligence and earnestness, to find out such a word as might, if God
would bless it, lay hold of and awaken the conscience, in which the good
Lord had respect to the desire of His servant; for I had not preached
long before some began to be touched by the Word, and to be greatly
afflicted in their minds at the apprehension of the greatness of their
sin, and of their need of Jesus Christ.

273.  But I at first could not believe that God should speak by me to
the heart of any man, still counting myself unworthy; yet those who were
thus touched would love me and have a peculiar respect for me; and
though I did put it from me, that they should be awakened by me, still
they would confess it, and affirm it before the saints of God; they
would also bless God for me, unworthy wretch that I am!  and count me
God’s instrument that showed to them the way of salvation.

274.  Wherefore, seeing them in both their words and deeds to be so
constant, and also in their hearts so earnestly pressing after the
knowledge of Jesus Christ, rejoicing that ever God did send me where
they were; then I began to conclude it might be so, that God had owned
in His work such a foolish one as I, and then came that word of God to
my heart with much sweet refreshment, ‘The blessing of him that was
ready to perish came upon me; and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for
joy’ (Job 29.13).

275.  At this therefore I rejoiced, yea, the tears of those whom God did
awaken by my preaching would be both solace and encouragement to me; for
I thought on those sayings, ‘Who is he that maketh me glad but the same
which is made sorry by me?’  (11 Cor.  2.2); and again, Though ‘I be not
an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine
apostleship are ye in the Lord’ (1 Cor.  9.2). These things, therefore,
were as another argument unto me that God had called me to, and stood by
me in this work.

276.  In my preaching of the Word, I took special notice of this one
thing, namely, that the Lord did lead me to begin where His Word begins
with sinners; that is, to condemn all flesh, and to open and allege that
the curse of God, by the law, doth belong to and lay hold on all men as
they come into the world, because of sin.  Now this part of my work I
fulfilled with great sense; for the terrors of the law, and guilt for my
transgressions, lay heavy on my conscience.  I preached what I felt,
what I smartingly did feel, even that under which my poor soul did groan
and tremble to astonishment.

277.  Indeed I have been as one sent to them from the dead; I went
myself in chains to preach to them in chains; and carried that fire in
my own conscience that I persuaded them to beware of.  I can truly say,
and that without dissembling, that when I have been to preach, I have
gone full of guilt and terror even to the pulpit door, and there it hath
been taken off, and I have been at liberty in my mind until I have done
my work, and then immediately, even before I could get down the pulpit
stairs, I have been as bad as I was before; yet God carried me on, but
surely with a strong hand, for neither guilt nor hell could take me off
my work.

278.  Thus I went for the space of two years, crying out against men’s
sins, and their fearful state because of them.  After which the Lord
came in upon my own soul with some staid peace and comfort through
Christ; for He did give me many sweet discoveries of His blessed grace
through Him.  Wherefore now I altered in my preaching, for still I
preached what I saw and felt; now therefore I did much labour to hold
forth Jesus Christ in all His offices, relations, and benefits unto the
world; and did strive also to discover, to condemn, and remove those
false supports and props on which the world doth both lean, and by them
fall and perish.  On these things also I staid as long as on the other.

279.  After this, God led me into something of the mystery of union with
Christ; wherefore that I discovered and showed to them also.  And when I
had travelled through these three chief points of the Word of God, about
the space of five years or more, I was caught in my present practice and
cast into prison, where I have lain above as long again, to confirm the
truth by way of suffering, as I was before in testifying of it according
to the Scriptures in a way of preaching.

280.  When I have been preaching, I thank God, my heart hath often all
the time of this and the other exercise, with great earnestness, cried
to God that He would make the Word effectual to the salvation of the
soul; still being grieved lest the enemy should take the Word away from
the conscience, and so it should become unfruitful.  Wherefore I did
labour so to speak the Word, as that thereby, if it were possible, the
sin and the person guilty might be particularized by it.

281.  Also, when I have done the exercise, it hath gone to my heart to
think the Word should now fall as rain on stony places, still wishing
from my heart, 0 that they who have heard me speak this day did but see
as I do what sin, death, hell, and the curse of God is; and also what
the grace, and love, and mercy of God is, through Christ, to men in such
a case as they are, who are yet estranged from Him.  And, indeed, I did
often say in my heart before the Lord, That if to be hanged up presently
before their eyes would be a means to awaken them, and confirm them in
the truth, I gladly should be contented.

282.  For I have been in my preaching, especially when I have been
engaged in the doctrine of life by Christ, without works, as if an angel
of God had stood by at my back to encourage me.  Oh, it hath been with
such power and heavenly evidence upon my own soul, while I have been
labouring to unfold it, to demonstrate it, and to fasten it upon the
consciences of others, that I could not be contented with saying, I
believe, and am sure; methought I was more than sure, if it be lawful so
to express myself, that those things which then I asserted were true.

283.  When I went first to preach the Word abroad, the doctors and
priests of the country did open wide against me.  But I was persuaded of
this, not to render railing for railing, but to see how many of their
carnal professors I could convince of their miserable state by the law,
and of the want and worth of Christ; for, thought I, This shall answer
for me in time to come, when they shall be for my hire before their
faces (Gen.  30.33).

284.  I never cared to meddle with things that were controverted, and in
dispute amongst the saints, especially things of the lowest nature; yet
it pleased me much to contend with great earnestness for the word of
faith and the remission of sins by the death and sufferings of Jesus;
but I say, as to other things, I should let them alone, because I saw
they engendered strife, and because that they neither, in doing nor in
leaving undone, did commend us to God to be His.  Besides, I saw my work
before me did run in another channel even to carry an awakening word; to
that therefore did I stick and adhere.

285.  I never endeavoured to, nor durst make use of other men’s lines
(Rom.  15.18), though I condemn not all that do, for I verily thought,
and found by experience, that what was taught me by the Word and Spirit
of Christ, could be spoken, maintained, and stood to by the soundest and
best established conscience; and though I will not now speak all that I
know in this matter, yet my experience hath more interest in that text
of Scripture than many amongst men are aware (Gal.  1.11, 12).

286.  If any of those who were awakened by my ministry did after that
fall back, as sometimes too many did, I can truly say their loss hath
been more to me than if one of my own children, begotten of my body, had
been going to its grave; I think, verily, I may speak it without an
offence to the Lord, nothing hath gone so near me as that, unless it was
the fear of the loss of the salvation of my own soul.  I have counted as
if I had goodly buildings and lordships in those places where my
children were born; my heart hath been so wrapped up in the glory of
this excellent work, that I counted myself more blessed and honoured of
God by this than if He had made me the emperor of the Christian world,
or the lord of all the glory of the earth without it!  O these words,
‘He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a
soul from death’ (Jas.  5.20). ‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of
life; and he that winneth souls is wise’ (Prov.  11.30). ‘They that be
wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn
many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever’ (Dan.  12.3). ‘For
what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?  Are not even ye in the
presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?  For ye are our glory
and joy’ (1 Thess.  2.19, 20). These, I say, with many others of a like
nature, have been great refreshments to me.

287.  I have observed, that where I have had a work to do for God, I
have had first, as it were, the going of God upon my spirit to desire I
might preach there.  I have also observed that such and such souls in
particular have been strongly set upon my heart, and I stirred up to
wish for their salvation; and that these very souls have, after this,
been given in as the fruits of my ministry.  I have also observed, that
a word cast in by the by hath done more execution in a sermon than all
that was spoken besides; sometimes also when I have thought I did no
good, then I did the most of all; and at other times when I thought I
should catch them I have fished for nothing.

288.  I have also observed, that where there hath been a work to do upon
sinners, there the devil hath begun to roar in the hearts, and by the
mouths of his servants.  Yea, oftentimes when the wicked world hath
raged most, there hath been souls awaked by the word.  I could instance
particulars, but I forbear.

289.  My great desire in fulfilling my ministry was to get into the
darkest places of the country, even amongst those people that were
farthest off of profession; yet not because I could not endure the
light, for I feared not to show my gospel to any, but because I found my
spirit leaned most after awakening and converting work, and the Word
that I carried did lead itself most that way also; ‘yea, so have I
strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should
build upon another man’s foundation’ (Rom.  15.20).

290.  In my preaching I have really been in pain, and have, as it were,
travailed to bring forth children to God; neither could I be satisfied
unless some fruits did appear in my work.  If I were fruitless it
mattered not who commended me; but if I were fruitful, I cared not who
did condemn.  I have thought of that, ‘He that winneth souls is wise’
(Prov.  11.30); and again, ‘Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord;
and the fruit of the womb is his reward.  As arrows in the hand of a
mighty man, so are children of the youth.  Happy is the man that hath
filled his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but they
shall speak with the enemies in the gate’ (Ps.  127.3-5).

291.  It pleased me nothing to see people drink in opinions if they
seemed ignorant of Jesus Christ, and the worth of their own salvation,
sound conviction for sin, especially for unbelief, and an heart set on
fire to be saved by Christ, with strong breathing after a truly
sanctified soul; that it was that delighted me; those were the souls I
counted blessed.

292.  But in this work, as in all other, I had my temptations attending
me, and that of diverse kinds, as sometimes I should be assaulted with
great discouragement therein, fearing that I should not be able to speak
the Word at all to edification; nay, that I should not be able to speak
sense unto the people; at which times I should have such a strange
faintness and strengthlessness seize upon my body that my legs have
scarce been able to carry me to the place of exercise.

293.  Sometimes, again, when I have been preaching, I have been
violently assaulted with thoughts of blasphemy, and strongly tempted to
speak the words with my mouth before the congregation.  I have also at
some times, even when I have begun to speak the Word with much
clearness, evidence, and liberty of speech, yet been before the ending
of that opportunity so blinded, and so estranged from the things I have
been speaking, and have also been so straitened in my speech, as to
utterance before the people, that I have been as if I had not known or
remembered what I have been about, or as if my head had been in a bag
all the time of the exercise.

294.  Again, when as sometimes I have been about to preach upon some
smart and scorching portion of the Word, I have found the tempter
suggest, What, will you preach this?  this condemns yourself; of this
your own soul is guilty; wherefore preach not of it at all; or if you
do, yet so mince it as to make way for your own escape; lest instead of
awakening others, you lay that guilt upon your own soul as you will
never get from under.

295.  But, I thank the Lord, I have been kept from consenting to these
so horrid suggestions, and have rather, as Samson, bowed myself with all
my might, to condemn sin and transgression wherever I found it, yea,
though therein also I did bring guilt upon my own conscience!  ‘Let me
die,’ thought I, ‘with the Philistines’ (Judg.  16.29, 30), rather than
deal corruptly with the blessed Word of God, ‘Thou that teachest
another, teachest not thou thyself?’  It is far better that thou do
judge thyself, even by preaching plainly to others, than that thou, to
save thyself, imprison the truth in unrighteousness; blessed be God for
His help also in this.

296.  I have also, while found in this blessed work of Christ, been
often tempted to pride and liftings up of heart; and though I dare not
say I have not been infected with this, yet truly the Lord, of His
precious mercy, hath so carried it towards me, that, for the most part,
I have had but small joy to give way to such a thing; for it hath been
my every day’s portion to be let into the evil of my own heart, and
still made to see such a multitude of corruptions and infirmities
therein, that it hath caused hanging down of the head under all my gifts
and attainments; I have felt this thorn in the flesh, the very mercy of
God to me (11 Cor.  12.7-9).

297.  I have had also, together with this, some notable place or other
of the Word presented before me, which word hath contained in it some
sharp and piercing sentence concerning the perishing of the soul,
notwithstanding gifts and parts; as, for instance, that hath been of
great use unto me, ‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and of
angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, and a
tinkling cymbal’ (1 Cor.  13.1, 2).

298.  A tinkling cymbal is an instrument of music, with which a skilful
player can make such melodious and heart-inflaming music, that all who
hear him play can scarcely hold from dancing; and yet behold the cymbal
hath not life, neither comes the music from it, but because of the art
of him that plays therewith; so then the instrument at last may come to
naught and perish, though, in times past, such music hath been made upon
it.

299.  Just thus I saw it was and will be with them who have gifts, but
want saving grace, they are in the hand of Christ, as the cymbal in the
hand of David; and as David could, with the cymbal, make that mirth in
the service of God, as to elevate the hearts of the worshippers, so
Christ can use these gifted men, as with them to affect the souls of His
people in His church; yet when He hath done all, hang them by as
lifeless, though sounding cymbals.

300.  This consideration, therefore, together with some others, were,
for the most part, as a maul on the head of pride, and desire of vain
glory; what, thought I, shall I be proud because I am a sounding brass?
Is it so much to be a fiddle?  Hath not the least creature that hath
life, more of God in it than these?  Besides, I knew it was love should
never die, but these must cease and vanish; so I concluded, a little
grace, a little love, a little of the true fear of God, is better than
all these gifts; yea, and I am fully convinced of it, that it is
possible for a soul that can scarce give a man an answer, but with great
confusion as to method, I say it is possible for them to have a thousand
times more grace, and so to be more in the love and favour of the Lord
than some who, by virtue of the gift of knowledge, can deliver
themselves like angels.

301.  Thus, therefore, I came to perceive, that though gifts in
themselves were good to the thing for which they are designed, to wit,
the edification of others; yet empty and without power to have the soul
of him that hath them, if they be alone; neither are they, as so, any
sign of a man’s state to be happy, being only a dispensation of God to
some, of whose improvement, or non-improvement, they must, when a little
love more is over, give an account to Him that is ready to judge the
quick and the dead.

302.  This showed me, too, that gifts being alone, were dangerous, not
in themselves, but because of those evils that attend them that have
them, to wit, pride, desire of vain glory, self-conceit, etc., all of
which were easily blown up at the applause and commendation of every
unadvised Christian, to the endangering of a poor creature to fall into
the condemnation of the devil.

303.  I saw therefore that he that hath gifts had need be let into a
sight of the nature of them, to wit, that they come short of making of
him to be in a truly saved condition, lest he rest in them, and so fall
short of the grace of God.

304.  He hath also cause to walk humbly with God, and be little in his
own eyes, and to remember withal, that his gifts are not his own, but
the church’s; and that by them he is made a servant to the church; and
that he must give at last an account of his stewardship unto the Lord
Jesus; and to give a good account, will be a blessed thing.

305.  Let all men therefore prize a little with the fear of the Lord;
gifts indeed are desirable, but yet great grace and small gifts are
better than great gifts and no grace.  It doth not say, the Lord gives
gifts and glory, but the Lord gives grace and glory; and blessed is such
an one to whom the Lord gives grace, true grace, for that is a certain
forerunner of glory.

306.  But when Satan perceived that his thus tempting and assaulting of
me would not answer his design, to wit, to overthrow my ministry, and
make it ineffectual, as to the ends thereof; then he tried another way,
which was to stir up the minds of the ignorant and malicious, to load me
with slanders and reproaches; now therefore I may say, that what the
devil could devise, and his instruments invent, was whirled up and down
the country against me, thinking, as I said, that by that means they
should make my ministry to be abandoned.

307.  It began therefore to be rumoured up and down among the people,
that I was a witch, a Jesuit, a highwayman, and the like.

308.  To all which, I shall only say, God knows that I am innocent.  But
as for mine accusers, let them provide themselves to meet me before the
tribunal of the Son of God, there to answer for these things, with all
the rest of their iniquities, unless God shall give them repentance for
them, for the which I pray with all my heart.

309.  But that which was reported with the boldest confidence, was, that
I had my misses, my whores, my bastards, yea, two wives at once, and the
like.  Now these slanders, with the other, I glory in, because but
slanders, foolish, or knavish lies, and falsehoods cast upon me by the
devil and his seed; and should I not be dealt with thus wickedly by the
world, I should want one sign of a saint, and a child of God.  ‘Blessed
are ye (said the Lord Jesus) when men shall revile you, and persecute
you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake;
rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for
so persecuted they the prophets which were before you’ (Matt.  5.11).

310.  These things, therefore, upon mine own account, trouble me not;
no, though they were twenty times more than they are.  I have a good
conscience, and whereas they speak evil of me, as an evil doer, they
shall be ashamed that falsely accuse my good conversation in Christ.

311.  So, then, what shall I say to those that have thus bespattered me?
Shall I threaten them?  Shall I chide them?  Shall I flatter them?
Shall I intreat them to hold their tongues?  No, not I, were it not for
that these things make them ripe for damnation, that are the authors and
abettors, I would say unto them, Report it, because it will increase my
glory.

312.  Therefore I bind these lies and slanders to me as an ornament, it
belongs to my Christian profession to be vilified, slandered, reproached
and reviled; and since all this is nothing else, as my God and my
conscience do bear me witness, I rejoice in reproaches for Christ’s
sake.

313.  I also calling all those fools, or knaves, that have thus made it
anything of their business to affirm any of the things afore-named of
me, namely, that I have been naught with other women, or the like.  When
they have used to the utmost of their endeavours, and made the fullest
inquiry that they can, to prove against me truly, that there is any
woman in heaven, or earth, or hell, that can say, I have at any time, in
any place, by day or night, so much as attempted to be naught with them;
and speak I thus, to beg mine enemies into a good esteem of me?  No, not
I: I will in this beg relief of no man; believe or disbelieve me in
this, all is a case to me.

314.  My foes have missed their mark in this their shooting at me.  I am
not the man.  I wish that they themselves be guiltless.  If all the
fornicators and adulterers in England were hanged by the neck till they
be dead, scaps John Bunyan, the object of their envy, would be still
alive and well.  I know not whether there be such a thing as a woman
breathing under the copes of the whole heaven but by their apparel,
their children, or by common fame, except my wife.

315.  And in this I admire the wisdom of God, that He made me shy of
women from my first conversion until now.  Those know, and can also bear
me witness, with whom I have been most intimately concerned, that it is
a rare thing to see me carry it pleasant towards a woman, the common
salutation of a woman I abhor, it is odious to me in whosoever I see it.
Their company alone, I cannot away with.  I seldom so much as touch a
woman’s hand, for I think these things are not so becoming me.  When I
have seen good men salute those women that they have visited, or that
have visited them, I have at times made my objection against it, and
when they have answered, that it was but a piece of civility, I have
told them, it is not a comely sight; some indeed have urged the holy
kiss but then I have asked why they made baulks, why they did salute the
most handsome, and let the ill-favoured go; thus, how laudable soever
such things have been in the eyes of others, they have been unseemly in
my sight.

316.  And now for a wind up in this matter, I calling not only men, but
angels, to prove me guilty of having carnally to do with any woman save
my wife, nor am I afraid to do it a second time, knowing that I cannot
offend the Lord in such a case, to call God for a record upon my soul,
that in these things I am innocent.  Not that I have been thus kept,
because of any goodness in me more than any other, but God has been
merciful to me, and has kept me; to whom I pray that He will keep me
still, not only from this, but from every evil way and work, and
preserve me to His heavenly kingdom.  Amen.

317.  Now as Satan laboured by reproaches and slanders, to make me vile
among my countrymen, that, if possible, my preaching might be made of
none effect, so there was added hereto a long and tedious imprisonment,
that thereby I might be frighted from my service for Christ, and the
world terrified, and made afraid to hear me preach, of which I shall in
the next place give you a brief account.

A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE AUTHOR’S IMPRISONMENT

318.  Having made profession of the glorious gospel of Christ a long
time, and preached the same about five years, I was apprehended at a
meeting of good people in the country, among whom, had they let me
alone, I should have preached that day, but they took me away from
amongst them, and had me before a justice; who, after I had offered
security for my appearing at the next sessions, yet committed me,
because my sureties would not consent to be bound that I should preach
no more to the people.

THE CONCLUSION

1.  Of all the temptations that ever I met with in my life, to question
the being of God, and the truth of His gospel, is the worst, and the
worst to be borne; when this temptation comes, it takes away my girdle
from me, and removeth the foundations from under me.  Oh, I have often
thought of that word, ‘Have your loins girt about with truth’; and of
that, ‘When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?’

2.  Sometimes, when, after sin committed, I have looked for sore
chastisement from the hand of God, the very next that I have had from
Him hath been the discovery of His grace.  Sometimes, when I have been
comforted, I have called myself a fool for my so sinking under trouble.
And then, again, when I have been cast down, I thought I was not wise to
give such way to comfort.  With such strength and weight have both these
been upon me.

3.  I have wondered much at this one thing, that though God doth visit
my soul with never so blessed a discovery of Himself, yet I have found
again, that such hours have attended me afterwards, that I have been in
my spirit so filled with darkness, that I could not so much as once
conceive what that God and that comfort was with which I have been
refreshed.

4.  I have sometimes seen more in a line of the Bible than I could well
tell how to stand under, and yet at another time the whole Bible hath
been to me as dry as a stick; or rather, my heart hath been so dead and
dry unto it, that I could not conceive the least drachm of refreshment,
though I have looked it all over.

5.  Of all tears, they are the best that are made by the blood of
Christ; and of all joy, that is the sweetest that is mixed with mourning
over Christ.  Oh!  it is a goodly thing to be on our knees, with Christ
in our arms, before God.  I hope I know something of these things.

6.  I find to this day seven abominations in my heart: (1) Inclinings
to unbelief.  (2) Suddenly to forget the love and mercy that Christ
manifesteth.  (3) A leaning to the works of the law.  (4) Wanderings and
coldness in prayer.  (5) To forget to watch for that I pray for.  (6)
Apt to murmur because I have no more, and yet ready to abuse what I
have.  (7) I can do none of those things which God commands me, but my
corruptions will thrust in themselves, ‘When I would do good, evil is
present with me.’

7.  These things I continually see and feel, and am afflicted and
oppressed with; yet the wisdom of God doth order them for my good.  (1)
They make me abhor myself.  (2) They keep me from trusting my heart.
(3) They convince me of the insufficiency of all inherent righteousness.
(4) They show me the necessity of flying to Jesus.  (5) They press me to
pray unto God.  (6) They show me the need I have to watch and be sober.
(7) And provoke me to look to God, through Christ, to help me, and carry
me through this world.  Amen.

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