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[Section 5]

 

253. Now I shall go forward to give you a relation of other of the Lordís dealings 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 with 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, ďThis do in remembrance of meĒ (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 Ďas became me,í 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 Lordís 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 withmuch weakness in my outward man, insomuch that I thought I couldnot 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 thatblessed world to come; for it hath, I bless the name of God, been myusual course, as always, so especially in the day of affliction, toendeavour 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 experienceof the goodness of God to my soul, but there came flocking into mymind, an innumerable company of my sins and transgressions, amongstwhich these were at this time most to my affliction, namely, mydeadness, dullness, and coldness in holy duties; my wanderings ofheart, ‘of’ my wearisomeness in all good things, my want of love toGod, his ways, and people, with this at the end of all, Are these thefruits of Christianity? are these the tokens of a blessed man?

 

257. At the apprehension of these things my sickness was doubled uponme, for now was I sick in my inward man, my soul was clogged withguilt; now also was my former experience of God’s goodness to mequite 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, andwas giving up all for lost; but as I was walking up and down in thehouse, as a man in a most woeful state, that word of God took hold ofmy heart, Ye are “justified freely by his grace, through the redemptionthat is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24). ‘But oh what a turn it made uponme!’

 

258. Now was I as one awakened out of some troublesome sleep anddream, and listening to this heavenly sentence, I was as if I had heard itthus expounded to me: Sinner, thou thinkest that because of thy sinsand infirmities I cannot save thy soul, but behold my Son is by me, andupon him I look, and not on thee, and will deal with thee according as Iam pleased with him. At this I was greatly lightened in my mind, andmade to understand that God could justify a sinner at any time; it wasbut ‘his’ looking upon Christ, and imputing of his benefits to us, andthe work was forthwith done.

 

259. And as I was thus in a muse that scripture also came with greatpower upon my spirit, Not by works of righteousness which we havedone, but according to his mercy he saved us, &c. (Titus 3:5; 2 Tim1:9). Now was I got on high; I saw myself within the arms of grace andmercy; and though I was before afraid to think of a dying hour, yet nowI 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 thistime also I saw more in those words, “Heirs of God” (Rom 8:17), thanever I shall be able to express while I live in this world. “Heirs ofGod!” God himself is the portion of the saints. This I saw andwondered at, but cannot tell you what I saw.

 

260. ‘Again, as I was at another time very ill and weak, all that timealso the tempter did beset me strongly, for I find he is much forassaulting the soul when it begins to approach towards the grave, thenis his opportunity, labouring to hide from me my former experience ofGod’s goodness; also setting before me the terrors of death and thejudgment of God, insomuch that at this time, through my fear ofmiscarrying for ever, should I now die, I was as one dead before deathcame, 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, justas I was in the midst of those fears, these words of the angels carryingLazarus 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 didsweetly revive my spirit, and help me to hope in God; which, when Ihad with comfort mused on a while, that word fell with great weightupon my mind, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thyvictory?” (1 Cor 15:55). At this I became both well in body and mind atonce, for my sickness did presently vanish, and I walked comfortably inmy work for God again.’

 

261. At another time, though just before I was pretty well and savouryin 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 ifI had never seen or known them in my life; I was also so overrun in mysoul, with a senseless, heartless frame of spirit, that I could not feel mysoul to move or stir after grace and life by Christ; I was as if my loinswere broken, or as if my hands and feet had been tied or bound withchains. At this time also I felt some weakness to seize ‘upon’ myoutward man, which made still the other affliction the more heavy anduncomfortable ‘to me.’

 

262. After I had been in this condition some three or four days, as I wassitting by the fire, I suddenly felt this word to sound in my heart, I mustgo to Jesus; at this my former darkness and atheism fled away, and theblessed things of heaven were set within my view. While I was on thissudden thus overtaken with surprise, Wife, said I, is there ever such ascripture, I must go to Jesus? she said she could not tell, therefore I satmusing still to see if I could remember such a place; I had not sat abovetwo or three minutes but that came bolting in upon me, “And to aninnumerable company of angels,” and withal, Hebrews the twelfth,about the mount Sion was set before mine eyes (vv 22-24).

 

263. Then with joy I told my wife, O now I know, I know! But thatnight was a good night to me, I never had but few better; I longed forthe company of some of God’s people that I might have imparted untothem what God had showed me. Christ was a precious Christ to mysoul that night; I could scarce lie in my bed for joy, and peace, andtriumph, through Christ; this great glory did not continue upon me untilmorning, yet that twelfth of the author to the Hebrews (Heb 12:22,23)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 thecity of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerablecompany 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 thespirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the newcovenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better thingsthan that of Abel.” Through this blessed sentence the Lord led me overand over, first to this word, and then to that, and showed me wonderfulglory in every one of them. These words also have oft since this timebeen great refreshment to my spirit. Blessed be God for having mercyon me.

 

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