« PrécédentContinuer »
fore, to make my chain the lighter in hell, I am resolved against all known sin: and accordingly I fell to works again; perceiving in myself no other motive or inducement hereto but merely expecting and hoping that, by. this means, my being in hell would be made more tolerable and easy than that of other reprobates. By this very thing it will easily be understood how near I was to final despair in my own thoughts and apprehensions,
But among all the combats and conflicts I met with in the time of my bondage, none more racked and tormented my spirit than those hideous and abominable thoughts which, by the devil, were like fiery and poisoned arrows, injected into my mind; fometimes against the holy scriptures, as that they were not the word of God, but the cunning and politic inventions of men, devised and contrived by some to awe and keep others in subjection. This temptation caused no small anguish and perturbation in my mind, but did not continue long; for though fad and desperate I thought my case to be, I was enabled to consider what a mighty power went along with the scriptures, in discovering my most secret corruptions, and putting my conscience and spirit into such fear of what would ensue, in case I did not confess and forsake them. This very confideration, that the word which discovered to me my vain and sinful thoughts, and condemned the ill lise I had led, and that laid me under such captivating horror and fear, for the
same must needs be the word of an infinite, all.. knowing and powerful God, did foil and repel that temptation.
No sooner had the first temptation been over, but a second immediately ensues; which was, that there is no such thing as a God in nature ; and that men's believing and professing that being of a God, was more from use of custom, and from the strong workings of fancy, than from any real truth, grounded on sensible experience.
Oh! the fad concussion this temptation gave to the powers of nature: I was so strangely influenced by it, that I solemnly profess I felt myself sinking, and, just tottering to fall off my feet; all over in a muck sweat, with a strange shivering and trembling in all the powers and parts of soul and body. But making to a window looking into a pleasant garden, I leaned on the window.with my elbows, and so bore up my body from falling, which otherwise had undoubtedly funk down under its present load and weight, occasioned by that temptation. : Remaining for some little space in a horrible trembling and amazing confternation of spirit, I looking out into the garden, began to consider and reason with myself thus: How came these trees to grow thus orderly in this place? who reared or built these sumptuous buildings ? Surely not themselves: why then, think I, if not themselves, then of necessity they must spring from fome cause higher and more noble than themselves,
viz. man! Then, from the confideration of the trees and the buildings I began to exereife my thoughts about man, and other living creatures ; thinking thus: And how came man and these other living creatures to have a being; surely, think 1, they could neither form nor quicken themfelves; and if so, then of necessity there must be some cause of their being and living, which is higher and more excellent than they; which can, thinks my reason, be no other but an infinitely glorious God. And this, said reafon in me, might be evinced, not only by considering the particulars already mentioned, but by considering the frame of the world, and the strange preservation of all things therein; and the wonderful government of the fecond caufos wherewith the world abounds.
use These, and fundry others of the like arguments, proved so ftrong and nervous to convince me that of neceflity there must be a God, that the tempta tion vanished.
The devil, perceiving himself foiled in this attempt, fets furiously on me with blasphemous thoughes; representing God in such vile hapes, and hideous and base ideas to my mind, that, were I to undergo the utmost of misery that creatures are capable of inficting, or I capable of suffering, b do humbly hope, in Christ's strength, I Mould unspeakably choose rather to be racked to death than but once co name them; fo vile, hideous, and horrible were they proceeding, rather from the
enraged and revengeful malice of the devil against the' majesty of God, 'than from the corruption and pravity of nature. These things I do but glance or touch at, not from any delight I take in the remembrance of them, but rather for the relief of fome
poor tempted, despairing soul, who probably may be conflicting with the fame fiery assaults, concluding within themfelves, as I often did, that none belonging to God could ever be poffesied with such black and dismal thoughts. "Oh, the ghastliness and fearful tremblings! Oh, the fweats and weariness of my very life, which these fatanical injections caused in me!
A fure and convincing argument they were immediately from the devil, and none else ; the fins flowing from the pravity of nature being commonly rather pleasing and de lightful than amazing and terrifying to nature *.
* It is the constant practice of tlrat infernal accuser of the brethren, when once he has filled the awakened mind with hard, vile, and blasphemous thoughts against the ever-blessed God, his dear Son, the Spirit of all grace, the word of God, ot his ways and worship, to father or charge all his bare fugger. tions to the suffering captive, and accufe him of them as if they were his own crimes, that sprung from his heart, without his agency; whereas himself is the father of them all; they being so hateful to the soul, and opposed by the whole bent of the awakened mind, and refifted by every feeble effort that a finking finner in such circumstances can make. The distinction this Author makes between man's natural corruption and Satan s fiery darts, is very beautiful and striking, and may be of use under God to somne poor troubled and confused reader.
In this sad condition I continued so long, till my very animal spirits were even drunk up, and the radical moisture of my body wasted by that burning inflammation which I sensibly felt invade and possess my body. The pitiful and deplorable state I was in, both in respect of my soul, which I found was invaded by the terrors of God for the breach of his royal law, and, as I verily concluded, given up to Satan by God in a judicial way, to be possessed by him: as also in respect of my body, in which the sad symptoms of my approaching doom did, as I verily thought, hourly appear : such as the growing and increasing of that burning infiammation already mentioned;. decay of my light, which necessitated the use of spectacles at the age of twenty-five years; the loss of my smelling and tasting for about three months, with a great decay of my hearing: fo ghaftly a fight was I to behold, that I became a spectacle of wonderment to all the family, where I lived; some concluding that I was starved by any frequent fastings, others verily concluding, that evil spirits haunted me, which caused such ghastly looks, and my body to bend and bow towards crookedness, so heavy and insupportable was the load I lay under.