Images de page

the old Serpent to keep the Soul from God and his Chrift; and all the Counterworkings of fovereign Grace which in the End appear victorious. You fee here the Self-Flattery and many Deceits whereby Sinners raife a good Efteem of themfelves, and build up their vain Confidence in Oppofition to the Holiness of the Law and the Grace of the Gofpel; and here Chriftians may learn much of the holy Skill that is needful to maintain a conftant and glorious War with Sin by the Strength that is in Chrift, and they may read the Triumph of a dying Conqueror.


Now though every Chriftian hath fome inward Senfe of divine Things, yet every one has not fo rich a-Variety of Experiences; and among thofe that have, few are So watchful as to take a due Account of them; few To wife as to judge aright concerning them; and few Jo faithful and bold as to confign thefe Things to Writing for the Ufe of others. Men that are fit to publish their Obfervations of this Kind generally imagine that Humility requires to bury them in Silence and Darkness. But the Author and Subject of this Nar rative was a Man of great Piety, bright natural Parts, ftudious Learning and uncommon Penetration and Judgment, as fufficiently appears in his other Writings; yet there is Juch a Vein of Humility and Honefly that runs through every Page that you may fee the fecret Workings of his Thoughts through his holy Language. His Sins as well as his Graces lie open to Sight, the Labours & his Soul appear to the Eye, and the pious Reader will find himself at once delighted and improved. So the curious Operations of Bees are feen through a Hive of Glafs, and the Spectator is at once entertained with Inftruction and pleafing Wender.


[ocr errors]

II. Another Thing that gave me an Efteem of this Work was the Account that is given of an Evangelical Converfion, after the Author had been long Struggling with Tharp Convictions of Confcience and labouring


labouring long under fharp Agonies and Terrors: He had been fighting with Guilt and corrupt Nature to attain Holiness, Pardon and Peace, by all the Methods that the Reafon of Man would naturally fuggeft, and by the Doctrines and Duties of the Gofpel it felf ufed in a more legal Way and Manner and found his Labours repeated and vain, and his Work ftill to begin. Here he defcribes at large the utter Infufficiency of all Convictions and awakening Words and Providences, all Tears and Repentances, all religious Duties of Worship publick and private, all Vows and Promifes, Covenants and Bends with which he bound his Soul to God; and how Sin prevail'd and triumph'd over them all when they were practifed only in a legal Manner, as a meer Task of Confcience and without the delightful Taft of the Grace of the Gospel. All thefe left him ftill under Guilt, under the Power of Sin, and in utmost Confufion near to Despair, till it pleafed God to open his Eyes to behold the Mercy and Comfort of the Gospel as the Way to Holiness till divine Grace brought him as a dying Sinner, empty ua Peace; of all Good and helpless to the full Salvation that is in Chrift, and fweetly constrained him to receive Peace and Holiness together; till he learnt the Way of Sanctification by Faith and Hope in a pa doning God, a God reconciling Sinners to himfelf through Jefus the Redeemer. This overwhelm'd his Soul at once with deep Humility and Repentance, with 'onder and holy Foy, with Hope and Love, and conft ained him to pleafant Obedience. This renew'd his Nature, this wrought in him all the Powers and Principles of Chriftian Holiness, and raifed and Supported them in a glorious Degree.


Now though I dare not confine the Workings of the bleffed Spirit, who is infinitely free and various in his Operations, and he hath carried fome Thousands to Salvation in a more legal Way, and doth daily conform his divine Workings in many Souls to their lower De



grees of Light and Evangelical Knowledge, as well as to their natural Tempers and their Temptations; yet is my Judgment that fuch a Converfion of Sinners as this Author experienced, is always more frequent where the Gospel obtains in its pureft Light and its divineft. Glory, and feems to be more akin to the Spirit of ChriStianity.

III. The laft Thing that I shall mention that I remark in this Work is, the full Corfirmation that is given to our holy Religion, and to this noble Method of divine Grace, not only in the most watchful and holy Life, but alfo in the moft joyful and glorious Death of this good Man. Death takes off every poffible Difguife, and makes us think and Speak fincerely; and jet you fee him ftill the fame. Here we find Reafon and Lea ning giving their Teftimony to the Gospel and to the Power of Godliness, with a living Pen and with dying Lips.

"Thows with an humble and ferious Temper, yet the

Though this Book may be of great Ufe to all that will

Perfons to whom would chiefly recommend it, are thefe,


Firft, To my Younger Brethren in the Miniftry Perhaps they may learn from thefe Papers, the Way of fuiting their Difcourfes in publick and in private, with a more happy Turn for the Relief and Salvation of Souls. I am perfuaded if we all confulted the Workings of the Spirit of God on the Hearts of Chriftians and the various Devices of corrupt Nature, and the Wiles of Satan, as they appear in fuch Memoirs as thefe, we should learn better how to deal with the Confciences of Men in order to their Sactification and Comfort, and put the Doctrines of the Golpel to their proper Ufe: We should all preach the abounding Grace of Chrift, in order to lead Sinners to delight in the Law of God, and more effectually


direct and draw them to the Practice of that Faith that works by Love.


Next I would recommend it also to thofe Perfons that are awakened to a Senfe of their Sin and Danger, and feeking the Way of Salvation, that they may not run into miftaken Methods, nor follow the falle and flattering Dictates of a meer natural Confcience, left with their Bibles in their Hands, and the Gospel on their Lips, they feek Righteoufnefs and Peace as it were by the Works of the Law. Here they will find that Hope is the fureft and kindest Spring of Holiness, and that there is no folid and lafting Peace but what is built on the clear Difcoveries of forgiving Grace; and that Faith only can purify the


[ocr errors]

I would recommend it in the Third Place, to poor melancholy Souls, who walk watchfully and muurnfully before God in every Duty, and labour in Religion, and travel on in Heaviness all their Days: They dare not indulge their Hopes, nor fcarce admit any Degrees of Comfort because their Holiness is lo imperfect. Let them learn from this Example to try whether they would not fooner arrive at great Degrees of Sanctification by going farther out of themfelves to fetch their Comforts, and by letting their Hope live on the freeft and richeft Promifes of the Covenant of Grace, wherein Repentance and Helinefs are promifed as well as Parden and Happiness. Let them try whether an humble Truft in Chrift as their Righteoufnefs and their Strength together, would not fill them with powerful Conftraints of Love, and lead them to a fweet Delight in every Duty; and thus that good Word would be fulfilled unto them, the Joy of the Lord fhall be your Strength, Nehemiah

8. 10,



I would recommend it alfo to thofe Chriftians that have begun to walk with God cheerfully in the Vays of his Gofpel-Grace. Here they may be affured that all the glorious Grace of the Gospel will by no means excufe them from daily Labour and Care and Watchfulness, from conftant and earnest Prayer and univerfal Diligence in all the Duties of Godliness For if thefe be omitted Sin will prevail and Satan gain many Advantages to bring them back to Guilt and Bondage again. Sin prevailing will spread a temporary Darkness and Death over all the Vigour and Beauty of their Religion; but when they are fallen into fuch Degrees of Backfliding and Decay, they may learn here, that the only Way of their Recovery is by Faith and Hope in the Gospel, by trufting as undone Sinners in an all-fufficient Saviour; and that their only Security all along the Road to Heaven is by joining Diligence and Dependance toge


[ocr errors]

I will not recommend this Book to the nice and critical Part of the World that have no Taste of inward Religion, and relish nothing but what is polite and modifh: Yet I would attempt an Apology for a few Things in it that may perhaps. difguft fome better Readers, and prevent their own Advantage.

Some will fay, The Author feems to indulge Enthufiafm, and talks myftically in fome Pages of his Narrative. But let it be remember'd, that

Men of great Piety, whofe Soulsided into are a Temper of Religion, behold the Truths of the Gofpel in a glorious and tranfcendent Degree of divine Light; they live under warm Impreffions of their Truths and feel the feet Influence of them on all the Powers of Nature: This makes them fpeak

« PrécédentContinuer »