CHOICE EXPERIENCES OF The kind dealings of God be­fore, in, and after CONVERSION; Laid down in six general Heads. Together with Some brief Observations up­on the same.

Whereunto is added a descrip­tion of true E X P E R I E N C E.

By J. TURNER wife to Cap. John Turner.

PSALM 66. 16.

Come and hear all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.

LONDON, Printed by H. Hils, and are to be sold at the Black spread-Eagle, and the Three Bibles at the West end of Pauls 1653.

To the Churches of Christ who worship God in spirit and truth according to the holy Com­mandments of Jesus Christ, es­pecially those my dear Brethren at Newcastle, Barwick, and Scotland, with whom I have taken sweet counsel in the house of God for several years past, grace, mercy, truth and peace be multiplied from the Lord Jesus Christ.

PRECIOUS and dearly belo­ved Brethren, I know it would seem [Page] very strange to you, if this following Treatise should come to your hands without my pub­lick owning of it, as in­deed well it might, con­sidering my neer relati­on to the Author; it is no small joy to my heart that the Lord is pleased in these our daies any way by any means to put his People in mind of that which they are so prone to [Page] forget, namely the va­rious workings of God in their poor hearts, which you will find in this small Treatise in these three generall heads, viz. before, in, and since Conversion; we find the Lord in Scripture often calling upon his People to re­member their uncon­verted state, Isaiah 51. 1. Look unto the Rock whence ye are hewen, and [Page] to the holy of the Pit whence ye are digged; And the Lord know­ing our great inclinati­on to forget it, he is pleased to mind us of it, as in Eph. 5. 8. 1 Cor. 6. 10, 11. Tit. 3. 3. Eph. 2. 1, 2, 3. &c. The right remembrance of our unconverted state will be a means to engage our hearts to be much in the thoughts of, and highly to prise, that un­speakable [Page] love and grace of our God through Iesus in quick­ning us who were dead in trespasses and sins, in translating us from the Kingdome of darkness into the Kingdome of his dear Son; the seri­ous pondering of these things in our hearts will sweetly force us to break forth into admiration with the Apostle, 1 Ioh. 3. 1, 2. Behold what [Page] manner of love the Fa­ther hath bestowed upon us, that we should be call'd the sons of God, &c. but when we forget the two former, we lose our communion with God in a great measure, and cannot prise and im­prove the kind dealings of our God with us, since Conversion, neither walk holily and obedi­ently before the Lord in all his holy appoint­ments [Page] as we ought, but leave an open door for Satan to deceive us with his manifold ten­tations, by which we suffer much harm.

My hearts desire and prayer to the Lord is, that he would give all his people more care and diligence in watching their own hearts and waies, for the increase of their spi­ritual strength and [Page] growth in grace, lest they being led away for a time, with the error of the wicked, fall from their own stedfastness, 2 Pet. 3. 17, 18. as many have done to their greatest grief and loss. Belo­ved Brethren, you have here the labours of one of the weakest sex, which I trust will occasion you the more to give glory to God, in that his [Page] strength appears in weakness; were it not for the relation, I should have much room to speak of the Author, and this Her work, but I shall on­ly say, Let Her works praise Her; only I have this that I cannot but say, it was not Her desire to publish it, Her reasons She hath ex­pressed. Secondly, So far as one can speak [Page] for another, I can say for my Wife, in this vvork she hath had lit­tle help from men or things, but I believe much from the Lord; and as the Lord hath ovvned and much assi­sted her in these her great labors, I trust the same povver vvill ac­company each precious heart, into vvhose hand it may come, to make it very profitable to [Page] them. At my first sight of it, which was when it was neer fini­shed, though I believe I was the first that saw it, next Her self, I was so surprized, knowing nothing of it before, that I knew not what to say of it; but up­on consideration, and reviewing of it, I was very much pressed in spirit to publish it, and the more, in that the [Page] oftner I read it, the more I was ingaged to it: I can say through mercy it hath been use­full and profitable to me; I hope it will be so to many more. It is no small mercy, nor low attainment, to be indeed an expe­rienced Christian; it is easier to have fine words than a trea­sure in the heart: but seeing the kings daugh­ter [Page] is all glorious with­in, and that our treasure there doth in­crease by the blessing of the Lord upon our diligent using that means ordained for that end; this I trust will be a faithfull remem­brancer and helper of us in this great work, in which I hope the Lord will have much glory, and his people comfort, which hath [Page] been, is, and I trust e­ver shall be, the ear­nest desire of

Your poor unwor­thy Brother in the Gospel, JOHN TURNER.

To the Reader.

Reader,

THou wilt find in this little Book something suitable to those various changes, and differing conditions that or­dinarily poor souls are in, both before, in, and after conversion (only excepting a high degree of visible profa­ness, and excess of riot, with heart, hand and tongue blaspheming the holy One of Israel, in an unconverted State) The Author was kept from that great de­gree of wickedness, as you will find in the beginning of Her book. If this shall come into the hāds of any that yet live in those pollutions, and abominable corruptions, the Lord teach them to consider, that if Civility and Morality be too low and too little to stand the Soul in any stead in that day when God will judge the secrets of all men by Jesus Christ; Surely then sin and profaness will be a mi­serable covering. This little Treatise is not intended principally for such Ish­maelites, but rather for those who have [Page] their faces Zion ward enquiring the way thither, as also to such as have a name and place where the honor of God dwells, to all such I may say as an incourage­ment to peruse this little Treatise, First, as to the nature of it, its that which hath been digested, and it may well be called Experience, it may be likned to the Wine that Christ made of wa­ter at the end of the Mariage-Feast, being last it was better than the first, though doubtles the first wine was good: So I hope thou wilt find these few lines, though good at the first, yet better at the latter end, it being the privilege of Saints to have their last works best, and as they grow in years to grow in grace; which the Lord grant unto all his, for his mercies sake.Amen.

JOHN TURNER.

To the Christian Reader.

I Cannot but take it as a mercy from the Lord, that I have such an opportunity to give my te­stimony unto so worthy a work as this is, which indeed is a work that is not common amongst men, being the work of a Daughter of Zion, nay I may say a Mother in Israel, as it is said, Many Daughters have done vertuously, but She excelleth them all, there­fore let Her own works praise Her in the Gates of Zion, who hath opened to the view [Page] of all, not only the counsel of mans heart, which is as the deep waters, with the de­ceits therof, in which it may miscarry through the wis­dom of the flesh, and the wiles of Satan, but also the won­derful wisdom of God, in the powerful operation of his Spirit, in the clear footsteps of his Grace, by a large and well grounded experience in the Lords bringing of a poor soul out of darkness in­to light, but in more particu­lar thus; How far a soul may be wrought upon before it comes to Christ, with the lets and hinderances that [Page] keep it off from the truth. Secondly, of the true work of Grace in the heart, and how this differs from the former. Thirdly, the souls closing with Christ, and the sweet enjoyments of the same. And lastly, the full e­stablishment in the free Grace of God, and the man­ner how God effected this, with the several effects of all the aforesaid degrees of Grace, with so much vari­ety of spiritual, soul-edify­ing matter, and all so full of life and delight to a gra­cious experienced heart, that as to my remembrance I have [Page] not heard of the like, toge­ther with a large discovery of the most devilish and strong delusions of our times and the depth and danger of them, with the great Soul-losses of such as are taken with them, and also the nature and tendency of them, and Gods rich mer­cy in his recovering of his own out of them, and how by his wisdome he makes the same work for their good. So that good Reader, if thou wouldst see the very inside of a gracious soul, with the largest experience of the riches of Gods great dispen­sations [Page] of grace, here it is clearly presented in this smal ensuing Treatise, being so seasonable for the time we live in, and so useful for all sorts of persons, wherein error and hereticks are disco­vered, the godly most sweet­ly edified, and the way of truth laid open for such as desire it, and many precious principles of truth soundly asserted; All which, with much more considered, did not only affect my soul, but caused me, with others, to press on the author hereof to publish the same for the good of Saints, and a glorious ex­ample [Page] for all Christians to follow, in a serious observ­ing the passages of Gods pro­vidence and grace, that they may be rich in experience of his free mercies and goodnes towards them, as that by which God holds our souls in life, and forms his image in us, with deep ingagements of love and zeal for his glory, into whose bosome I commit the godly Reader, and this good work unto his blessing upon thy heart, and remain the unworthiest of all Saints,

John Spilsbery.

To the Reader.

READER,

THis smal Volume is the fruit of private Meditations re­lating to the inward man, which many neglecting have been like painted Sepulchers. It is a known Maxim, That the serious minded Christian is the most thri­ving, especially when the judge­ment ordereth the affection. Ma­ny persons are so drowned in con­fused and immethodical thoughts, that all their intentions are like an untimely birth, or the grass on the house top. This Author hath obtained favour of the Lord not [Page] onely to be esteemed a Daughter of Sion, but also one that excel­leth in grace, and to be counted a Mother in the true Israel, of which we have not many. I speak not this by hearsay onely (though her works praise her in the gates) but having had for some years more than ordinary experience of her clear conceptions, and sound judgement; being more naturally given to the exercise of godliness with sobriety than others, hath stirred me up to testify some of her spiritual worth, which hath been very advantagious to many, but especially to me. It was the great sorrow of the Jewish woman to be barren, being thereby deprived [Page] of bringing forth Christ in his hu­mane nature; and it is greater sorrow to ingenious Christians to be barren in spirituals. This precious soul hath conceived and brought forth spiritual fruit, to the view of good and bad; the mat­ter containeth a gradual narration of the Lords various dealings with her many years, both in, and af­ter Conversion, which speaketh forth much observance of Gods daily footsteps in the soul, the like have not commonly been seen; few have given-themselves to be intent in discovering the beauty of Christ in the inward man. If this may be instrumental to bring forth the additional experiences [Page] of other Saints, it will be a good president, especially in this age, in which Saints time hath been occasionally taken up more in building the walls of the true Si­on, than in discovering the trea­sures of Grace and inward Glory of Christ in the soul.

These inward Experiences are not intended to limit others, but to provoke self-examination and spiritual quickning. They are orderly laid down, though with brevity; a word to the wise is e­nough. Here is the danger of sin discovered, the excellent safety of a soul in Christ declared, the duties of privileged Christians manifested, and some cautions [Page] laid down to take heed of a light and unsound Generation of men, whose deceits have been largely experienced. Be watchfull, lest you fall where others have stumbled, and are through Grace recovered and much established. Read with diligence, consider with patience; thy encouragements are many; that which is tendred being the fruit of the Spirit of grace doth invite and animate thee; to con­clude, thy labor shall not be in vain in the Lord, to whom I com­mend thee in this and all thy spi­ritual labours, and remain

Thy affectionat [...] and welwishing friend JOHN GARDNER.

A word from the Au­thor to the READER.

THese notes in the following dis­course are some of the fruits of my labours written at several times in my Husbands absence, which may be some satisfaction as to my spend­ing that time. I did intend them only for my own private use, as a remem­brancer of the old loving kindness of the Lord towards me, & twas not in the least in my thoughts that ever it should have been presented to a publick view, but after I had written the greatest part of it, shewing it to my Husband, he had some thoughts to publish it, judging it might be profitable to some precious souls which, though it be written but in a broken, scattering way, and I am consci­ous to my self of too much weakness and unworthiness to be an Instrument for the [Page] good of souls, or to propagate the least truth of the Lord Jesus, yet I shall be willing to submit to better Judgements, hoping through the Blessing of God it may be useful, knowing from my own ex­perience I have received much from the Lord by reading: but besides the sense of my own unworthiness, as I had some discouraging thoughts as to my writing of it at the first, so I have met with the like as to my giving way to the publishing of it. As first, I thought I might seem to some to walk in an untrodden path, I having never seen any thing written be­fore in this manner and method; but whatever entertainment it may find with such, knowing from whom I have received it, I am well satisfied, my foot­steps will be found as for matter, so for method and manner, among the foot-steps of the flock of Christ, where I desire to feed besides the Shepheards Tents, Cant. 1. 8, Another thought which did discou­rage me was, knowing I must expect to encounter with Satan in relation to it se­veral waies, but believing that which way soever he appears whether to abase or exalt me in my own thoughts, the [Page] Lord will not be wanting with strength to withstand and resist him, and that I shall with advantage be delivered from his snares and temptations: Thus resolving to commit my self and it to the blessing of the Almighty, desiring it may be accep­ted of the Saints as the widows mite, and that what is weak may be covered with love, is the desire of me the unworthy Servant of Christ,

IANE TURNER.

The manner how I was put upon the writing these following lines, with the reasons and grounds for doing the same.

THrough the good pro­vidence of God, I li­ved in Newcastle for some time, where I received many precious mercies from the Lord, which I desire may never be forgotten by me; and being under a bodily afflicti­on, the Lord was pleased so to visit me with his loving kind­ness, that I can truly say, it was a time of joy to my soul: and in­deed [Page 2] I never enjoyed so much sweet communion with God, for so long a time together, as I did at that time; for, for the space of seven or eight weeks together, I was in a continual converse and exchanging love with God, as it were lodging and living in the bosome of Christ; and truly I do not remember that in all that time I had one considerable in­terruption; which condition was so sweet and joious to me, that it did exceedingly grieve me to think that ever I should forget the particulars thereof, finding from sad experience, that (though I can never forget the substance of such things, yet) I am prone to forget the particulars, the re­membrance of which I find to be much for the glory of God, and my own comfort and profit, espe­cially in times of trial and temp­tations; [Page 3] upon the consideration of which I thought it might be a good way to write them down.

And calling to mind some of the old loving kindnesses of God towards me, I resolved to write down some of them: For I do believe I cannot remember the hundreth part of the kind deal­ings of God towards me, so as to write them all: but though I cannot remember all; yet I may remember some, and those I judg most considerable I resolved to write them down.

But as I had many thoughts of encouragement to do it, so I had some thoughts that did dis­courage me; As

First, I thought it would be very hard, if not impossible, for me to remember that which hath been so long since (so as to write it) But the Lord was pleased to [Page 4] satisfy me in this; that my ends being such as were agreeable to his will, he would according to his promise, in my endeavours, bring things to my remembrance: and truly I was confirmed in be­lieving he would so do, from my own experience, for I do not re­member that ever I set my self se­riously to meditate on the for­mer kindness of God towards me, but I was much refreshed by it, and remembred that which I seemed to have forgotten.

A Second thought which did discourage me was, fearing left through forgetfulness as I knew I should leave out something which was, so I might possibly write something which was not, which I would not by any means willingly do; this I discerned to be a temptation for fear of hy­pocrisy, but God was pleased [Page 5] to satisfy me in it, with this re­solution, that what I did I would do as in his presence, and that if there were any thing which was clear to my remembrance, that I could not bring in without something which was doubtfull, I would rather leave out the one, than write the other, much less write any thing which was a plain addition, and in this reso­lution I set upon it, believing that God would assist and help me, desiring not to give way to discouraging thoughts; for I have often experienced this, that if in writing, speaking, or doing of any thing whereby God may be glorified, we should give way to temptations and discourage­ments, we should do nothing at all: For Satan and our own hearts will not be wanting to us, that way. [Page 6] But with grief of heart I must con­fess, that the greatest discourage­ments that I have met with have been from the Saints themselves (I do not mean only as to this particular, but as to other spiritu­al duties also) by which I trust I have learned in some measure to take the more heed how I disco­rage others; and doubtless Saints ought to take great heed left by their giving just occasion of dis­couragement they quench the Spirit of God in them, 2 Thes. 5. 1 [...]. quench not the Spirit; which that we may not do, we ought to endeavour for a Spirit of discern­ing, and for such a carriage by which we may best draw forth the hearts of others in spiritual things; not that we should draw or put persons upon that which they have not received, or that we should encourage any who [Page 7] put themselves on such things, but rather reprove them, espe­cially those who so act in a pub­lique way, such as the Apostle speaks of, who would be prea­chers of the Law, when indeed they know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm, 1 Tim. 1. 7. the hearing of which hath been no small burthen to my spi­rit. I wish from my soul, that not onely particular Saints may be faithful in the discharge of their duty, to reprove such, but also that the Church would put forth their Authority for the calling of them in, and that such bre­thren onely whose gifts are ap­proved of by the Church, may exercise their gifts publiquely, and no other, that the Saints may not be burthened, nor the world blaspheme. I shall say no more as to this, believing that [Page 8] the Lord will instruct those that are called to that work, namely to judge who are fit to be teachers, desiring only to caution Saints to take heed of casting stumbling blocks in each others way: For doubtless, though its one of the last, yet its not the least trial, that after we have in a great measure overcome the world, the devil, and our own hearts, we should meet with lets and discourage­ments from one another.

Its that indeed which is suita­ble to an imperfect state in which we are, and by which we may learn, as to live more singly on God, so also to presse after, and long for, that perfect State in which we shall be at the appear­ance of our Lord Jesus Christ. I might enlarge much in this mat­ter, but I intend only to hint at things, desiring the Lord to stir [Page 9] up the hearts of some more able, to enlarge upon it, knowing there is great need that Saints should be exhorted to this duty, namely not to discourage but to, incourage one another in all good things; & I desire that we may set before us that exhortation of the Apostle, Gal. 5. 26: Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another; From whence I observe, that to be desirous of vain glory, makes way for a spi­rit of envy, and so to provoke and grieve one another.

The consideration of that Scri­pture with Jam. 4. 5. may through the blessing of God be very use­full to Saints for this purpose: for questionles a slighting of the gifts and grace of God in others, doth many times arise off a desire of vain glory, and a spirit of envy.

The first Note of Experience of the good Providence of God towards mee in a state of Ignorance and Darkness before Conversion.

IT pleased the Lord I was civil­ly brought up from a child, and kept from such gross evills as persons meerly civil do not allow, but otherwaies very vain; and that which instru­mentally kept me from such things, as I conceived, was (to­gether with my civil educati­on) a desire of happiness, and a fear of misery, having a general notion that sinne was attended with misery; for I remember, when I had done any thing that I thought was sin, I was [Page 11] presently under great fear and terror; to take off which, and also to attain happiness in the end, I thought I was to be ex­ercised in some kind of religion, but being very ignorant, I made no inquiry what religion was, but took it for granted that that was religion which was then in force from King and Bishops, and so going on I grew very su­perstitiously zealous in all things suitable to the service Book, or a Cathedrall kind of Worship, and I thought the more I a­bounded in fasting, book pray­er, and observation of daies and times, mourning and afflicting my self for sin, the better it was; so that I think I did exceed most that I knew in that way for blind zeal, and superstiti­ous devotion: yet at this very time I thought my self far from [Page 12] Popery, and did alwaies oppose that with much zeal, and I am sure with much ignorance.

Then being acquainted with some who were then called Puri­tans, I began to perceive that there was some difference be­twixt that which I practised, and that which was done by them; and my observation of their car­riages, and hearing them speak such language as I was altoge­ther a stranger to, did so far work upon me, that I began to question my own condition, and oft times when I had done my long book prayers, though I had scarce ever heard of pray­ing without a book, yet I would in a poor broken manner com­plain to God that I was in some fear that what I did was not ac­cording to his will, and if it were not, I did beg of him that he [Page 13] would bring me to the know­ledge of the truth whatever I did undergo for attaining of it: But then sometimes I thought my condition good enough, and though I was never given to rail or speak evil of such persons, yet I thought they made more ado than they need to have done, and that God did not require so much strictnesse as they seemed to plead for.

But hearing them speak much of knowledge, and of the danger of ignorance, and knowing my self to be very ignorant, I began to be more frequent in reading the Scriptures, and hearing ser­mons; but my understanding not being yet opened, it was to little effect; for I remember I was at this time like a stock or stone as to the true understand­ing of that which I read or heard, [Page 14] that I can truly say as the Pro­phet in Psal. 73. 22. So foolish was I and ignorant, even as a Beast before thee; and yet at this time I was something in affection, as when I heard any thing of the judgements of God against sin, I should tremble, and when any thing of the mercy and goodness of God, or the love and sweet­ness of Jesus Christ, my heart would melt (as I thought) yet I understood nothing, so as to have it seated in the understanding and judgement.

This in general I do remem­ber as to that state.

Some brief Observations from this note of Expe­rience.

FIrst, concerning my be­ing kept from sin by a de­sire of happiness, and fear of misery: From thence I observe,

That in the daies of ignorance, before we have received grace to restrain us from sin, its a mercy to be restrained by something else: And truly to me its a mercy so considerable, that I desire to bless the Lord for it as long as I live.

Secondly, concerning my seeking after and framing to my self some kind of Reli­gion, from thence I observe,

That its naturall for persons to make after some kind of Reli­gion, and rather than they will worship nothing, they will wor­ship, Samaritan like, they know not what, John 4. 22.

Thirdly, concerning my opposing Popery, when my self lived in the practice of the same thing for the nature of it, from thence I observe,

That a person may oppose an error, and yet live at that time in the same error for the nature of [Page 17] it, though in a lower degree, and not know it; And that not on­ly persons totally ignorant, but Saints also, if they take not good heed: for I have experienced this more times than once.

Fourthly, concerning my complaint and prayer to God in relation to truth, from thence I observe,

That a person before conversi­on may (for ought I know) truly pray, and that from a secret work of God upon the heart. And therefore though I cannot from Scripture-rule exhort such to pray, so neither from [Page 18] ence can I forbid them, but ra­ther reioyce to see the hearts of any run out in such a way.

Fiftly, concerning my be­ing so much affected with truth, though I understood it not, from thence I observe,

That ignorant persons in hear­ing truth may have their reason so far touched, that they may as­sent to it, and be much affected with it, and yet understand no­thing so as to have it seated in the heart and judgement; and be­cause it is not seated in the heart and iudgement, that I conceive is the reason why ignorant persons are so un­certain and so unconstant in [Page 19] their thoughts concerning truth, and why many that live a long time under much means, yet continue very ignorant, it may be ever lear­ning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth, 2 Ti. 3. 7. and as the seed upon the sto­ny ground withred away be­cause it had no root; So truth not being rooted in the heart and iudgement, though it spring up in much affection, yet it comes to nothing. And indeed ignorant persons many times are sooner affect­ed, and doe seem to have more affection than others; he reason of that I conceive) [Page 20] is the same also with that of the seed upon the stony ground, it sprang up sud­denly, because it had not depth of earth; so its natu­ral for ignorant persons to spring forth in affection, they having as it were no­thing else to do but onely to be affected; their strength running all in one vein, or in one Chanel, they spend all in affection, while o­thers that have more under­standing have many other things to do, all the facul­ties of their souls being ex­ercised, their strength is dis­persed [Page 21] into many veins, weighing and pondering things in the heart and iudg­ment, that it may have depth to root and settle there; as its said of Mary, shee pondred those things in her heart, Luke 2. 19. so they are trea­suring it up in their hearts, having in their treasury things new and old. Mat. 12. 35. and 13. 52. and a little affection where there is iudgement, is better than a great deal with­out iudgement; yet much affection with a sound iudg­ment is best of all.

The second note of Experience, How I was brought to see my self in a miserable state by Na­ture, and convinced of sin by the Law, and so converted to du­ty, labouring for life by doing, though at that time in my own thoughts far from owning such a thing.

By providence hearing a Mi­nister of the Nation who was then called a Puritan, whom though I used often to hear, yet I could truly say as the Pro­phet in Dan. 10. 8. I heard, but I understood not; and as I was once hearing of him, very suddenly I thought I did discern and un­derstand things more clearly [Page 23] and more distinctly than ever I did before that time, being much affected with it, and did then own God in it, having many such thoughts as these, that as it was said of Lydia, Act. 16. 14. that now the Lord had opened my understanding, and now I hoped I should have more know­ledge, and delight more in hear­ing and reading, whereas be­fore it was wearysome to me, because I did not understand any thing but in a confused man­ner.

After this I had a great delight to hear this man, and though I thought it much on any other occasion to go one mile on foot, yet to hear him I could go three, and back again the same day fre­quently; and by his Ministery I was brought to see the supersti­tious varity of my former zeal, [Page 24] and laid it aside; and I remember that at this time I had such affe­ctionate heart-workings towards God and godliness, and such a hatred of all sin, according to what I then knew, that I did many times in my serious thoughts chuse rather to dy than live, meerly upon that account, because I would not sin against God, knowing my self subject thereunto.

And though I cannot say that at this time I had faith in God, so as to believe his Love to me on Gospel grounds, for I was total­ly ignorant of any such thing ma­ny years after, yet I had good thoughts of God from that glim­mering light which I then had, and which did produce in me much love to him, as I cannot but so judge.

But no sooner was I brought [Page 25] to this, but Satan was ready to assault me, and set upon me with this horrid temptation, to que­stion the Being of God, and I remē ­ber it usually came upō me when I was alone, but especially as I was going by my self to hear the aforesaid Minister, insomuch that it did exceedingly trouble me, and I then discerned it to be a temptation, and did resist and labour against it, drawing argu­ments as I went in the fields from the very works of Creation, to confirm my self in this truth, that there is a God, that it should not be in vain for me or any to serve him; and earnestly crying to God against it, through Grace I was not overcome by it, but had a supply of strength until it was removed; and I was no more troubled with it in many years after.

So I continued a constant hear­er of this man, and other such like, for some years, by which I came to see my self in a misera­ble State by nature, and was con­vinced of sin by the Law; but be­ing very ignorant of the Lord Je­sus, and their doctrine, being for the most part such as was suita­ble to the old covenant, instead of going to Christ for life, I was brought to a great degree of la­bour and travell for life and hap­pinesse, by doing (though at that time in my own thoughts farre from owning such a thing) being as exact and strict in all my waies (I think I may say) as it was pos­sible for a poor creature to be, but the more strict I was, still look­ing through the glasse of the law, the more my bondage was increa­sed; For I could see nothing but an addition of sin in all that I did, [Page 27] the law still calling for a perfect righteousness:

Then I began to be very much troubled, and in a great amase­ment & perplexity of spirit, fear­ing I should perish for ever; then I had thoughts to discover my con­dition to some to have advise from them, but meeting with ma­ny discouragements, did not, but kept it in my own brest, disco­vering no more but what I could not hide, which was onely my outward appearance much dif­fering from what formerly it was, which did occasion some to say that I was neer a distraction, they not knowing what condition I was in.

And truly my condition was so sad that I was afraid of a di­straction my self; for I thought it impossible to continue long in that condition, and not be di­stracted, [Page 28] which fear did occasi­on me to apply my self to some means of comfort, whereas be­fore I was not willing to hearken to any thing that way: the means I used was chiefly reading & prai­er, by which it pleased the Lord I came to some dark apprehensi­ons concerning Jesus Christ, be­ing perswaded there was some­thing of that nature, which if I could get a right understanding of, my condition would be much better; but fearing left I should sink under my burthen, temp­tations comming on me like the waves of the Sea, I was forced as I went about my occasions often to cry to God, like the Disciples in another case, Lord save me, else I perish, Mat. 8. 25. I thought many times, I was even sinking under my burthen, and I did believe there was no help but [Page 29] only in the Lord, and that he was able to do it, but whether he would do it, or whether he would save or damn me at last, I knew not, neither did I think it possible for me ever to have known that, except it were by some extraordinary way, which very few did attain unto.

But by degrees I began to stay upon some promises through such considerations as these; first, I thought it could not stand with the goodness of God to damn a poor soul that had such heart­workings and desires after him as I had, having much in my thoughts those words of Sampsons Mother, Judges 13. 23. I thought that if he did intend to destroy me he would never have given me such desires after him, & pre­served me till now; and then that promise, Mat. 5. 6. did much sup­port [Page 30] me, for I thought that if ever poor creature did hunger and thirst after righteousness, I did; these promises and consi­derations, with some confused apprehensions that I had concer­ning the Lord Jesus, did much raise me; the thoughts I had of him were such as these, I did be­lieve that the Justice of God must be satisfied for sin, and that no­thing could satisfy his justice but a perfect righteousnesse, now I thought I was to be very strict and circumspect in all my waies, if it were possible, to perform such a righteousnesse, but what I could not do, Christ had done for me, and when I had done any thing that I thought was sin, I could not apply Christ till I had repented, that was till I had mourned, fasted and pray­ed, afflicting my self in such a [Page 31] measure as I thought might stand with the not destroying or pre­judicing nature, for there God would have mercy rather than sacrifice, and Jesus Christ would make up that which was want­ing: so that Christ was my stay, though it was through a very car­nal and wrong apprehension.

But though I thought I must be so qualified and fitted for Christ before I could receive him, and be made happy by him, yet I knew there was no mercy to be found without him, nor no life but in him: In this conditiō I lived some years more, and grew very cheer­ful & confident (as I think it was possible to be, under such an ap­prehension) but yet my confi­dence was alwaies more or lesse, as I was more or less strict in my waies, and sometimes though I had been never so strict yet I was [Page 32] subject to fear left I had not done as much as it was possible for me to do, for otherwaies I thought Christ would be nothing at all to me; yet my hopes were greater than my fears, and I was resolv­ed, if I perished, I would perish here at the feet of Christ: and now I did not only see that pos­sible which before I thought im­possible, but I had great hopes and much confidence most times.

This apprehension, though it be that which is far below the glory of the free grace of God in the Gospel, yet it did present Christ very lovely to me, and did produce in me a real love to him, as I dare not but so judge, consi­dering how I stood affected to, and delighted in, whatever I knew to be his will: Though I must confess I think at the first the great wheel that carryed all [Page 33] about, was my own good; yet I am very confident that at this time I had a real love to, & delight in, the Lord Jesus Christ, and his commandements were not grie­vous to me, but I did approve of them to be the most excellent things, because approved of by the Lord; and I well remember I was so far taken off from de­lighting in sin, that I think I may say I did hate it with a perfect hatred, as that which was in it self the only object of hatred, as it was against God, and all my delight was to be with those that I thought did excell in vertue, and I could not bear wicked per­sons, but their waies and practi­ces were odious to me; yet still I say my condition at this time was a condition of extreme bondage and below the Gospel.

I shall say no more of it, but [Page 34] only this, that what I have here written I think I may say is not the hundredth part of the labors and travells of my soul whiles I lived in that condition, and if I should go about to write it all, I know not how nor when to make an end. But God was plea­sed in mercy to free me from that bondage by the manifestation of his love and grace through his Son, to whom be all praise and glory for ever more, Amen.

Some brief Observations from this second note of Experience.

FIrst, Concerning the per­son by whom my experi­ence in these things be­gan, which was one (as I iudge) not rightly called or sent to preach the Gospel, he not being related to a true Church, though otherwise (I hope) a godly man accor­ding to that measure of light he had received.

From whence I observe, That it is possible for a godly [Page 36] man in times of ignorance and darkness to be a Minister of a false Church.

Secondly, I observe, That though it be not the work of a false Ministery, neither is it the way of God to convert souls by, yet accidentally or pro­videntially somthing may be done that way by them, espe­cially in times of persecuti­on, where there is not a true Ministry abroad; as indeed I am much inclined to own the work of conversion to be begun in me at this time, and that for these reasons.

First, because now was the day of Gods power no [...] [Page 37] only to make me willing, but there was some change wrought in the whole soul; and every faculty of it, which before was dead, had now some life and motion in things relating to God and godliness; as the under­standing was opened, so the will was changed, and made willing to submit to truth, and to imbrace the waies of life, though it were through the greatest difficulty, yet in much darkness; and then the affections were taken, and though there were but a lit­tle glimps of truth appeared, yet there was a love to it, [Page 38] and delight in it, and a great hatred of the contrary; all which I apprehend could not be but from some seeds of the Gospel, though through false teaching, there was not that blessed fruit of ioy and peace in believing; also the Me­mory was active and busie to retain truth, so that here was some change wrought in the whole soul as aforesaid.

A second reason is, because when I lay under conviction of sin by the Law, and was ready to sink under my bur­then, that which did suport and uphold my spirit was the Lord Jesus Christ, though [Page 39] my apprehensions of him were not according to the Gospel, as to the glory of the free grace therein con­tained.

A third reason is, from the consideration of that fruit which did appear at that time, which was an intire love to Christ, and a con­versation suitable thereunto, according to the light then received: For there was not only a doing good, but a love to it, and delight in it; and there was not only a forbea­ring evil, but a hatred and indignation against it. It being thus with me at this [Page 40] time, I cannot but much ten­der persons in the like con­dition, who do manifest by a good conversation, a reall work of God upon their hearts, though living in a discovery below the privi­leges of the Gospel: yet not so to tender them, as not to tender the glory of truth a­bove them, being true to my principles in keeping a strict separation from them in re­lation to their visible and publick worship, it being contrary to the rule of the Gospel.

Three Observations from the three foregoing reasons. [Page 41] First, concerning the Change wrought in the whole soul, from thence I observe,

That there may be a Change wrought in the whole soul to life and godliness, long before that soul comes to enjoy life by belie­ving.

Secondly, concerning my being staid upon Christ when I was like to sink up­der my burthen, from thence I observe,

That a soul may cleave to, and really stay upon Christ, through some apprehension which presents him lovely, though it may be that which doth not present him so lovely as indeed he is.

Thirdly, concerning that entire love I had to Christ and his waies, from thence I observe,

That though the love of Christ manifested to a soul be that which ordinarily begets love in the soul to Christ, yet its possible there may be a real love to him, be­fore there is such a manifestati­on.

Now having minded ma­ny particulars as to my con­dition at that time when I did experience these things, I cannot altogether omit the kindness of God towards me in relation to persecutions, which though it were but [Page 43] small comparatively with some others, yet it was more than some met with, and it was that indeed which did require some strength from the Lord to undergo it with comfort, in which he not being wanting to me, I Judge it ought not to be forgotten by me; and as I had comfort in it at that time present, so I am still well satisfyed that I suffer­ed not as an evill doer, be­cause what I did then, was upon a conscientious ac­count, according to that light received. I could mention many particulars, [Page 44] but I forbear, heartily desi­ring that it may never be laid to their charge. But this book being intended by me as a remembrancer of the former dealings of God to­wards me, I think it not alto­gether useles, as to remember the time I was in that condi­tion, & the manner how I was brought from it, so also the time when J was brought from it, and that was after the Bishops were quite taken a­way in the beginning of the sitting of the late Sy­nod. And here I desire to re­member with thankfulness to God, that I was not in­snared by the change of [Page 45] times and laws; For at that very time when the Presbyte­rian party, so called, began to reign, and J might have reignd with them, and enioy­ed smiles from them, being convicted of a further dis­covery of truth J left them, and was content to become a scorn and a by-word a­mongst them; Though J must confess J had much re­spect from some of them all along, yet my sufferings from that party were far more than the former. J could here mention many particulars, but J forbear, desiring, as for the former, it may not [Page 46] be charged upon them; on­ly these general hints I hope will be sufficient to bring particulars to my remem­brance, for these things ought not to be forgotten by me, because in the re­membrance of them I find my heart much engaged in praises to God, and that se­veral waies; one way, and that not the least, is, that God hath broken their power. For indeed I must needs say, that according to my observation and experience, I have seen as persecuting a spirit in them as ever I did in the for­mer, and they did appear as [Page 47] bitter, if not more, against such as were called Anabap­tists, than ever the Bishops did against those that were called Puritans, considering their time and power: For as their time was short, so when their power was high­est, there was alwaies a par­ty which did a little aw them. I shall say no more of these things, but that as I desire for ever to blesse the Lord in the remem­brance of them, so I do like­wise desire that God would destroy, or at least keep un­der, every persecuting spirit, [Page 48] under what name or title soever called, till he is pleased to give them re­pentance.

The third Note of Experience, How I was brought to appre­hend and believe the free Grace of God in the Gospell, and in believing to receive the assurance of the love of God.

IN order to this experience I cannot omit to write some­thing concerning the reading of a book, by which as a means in the hand of God I received these never to be forgotten mercies. After I had livd about five or six years a strict professor, being ve­ry confident and settled upon the Lees of Legal Righteousness, it pleased the Lord there came a man to the Town where I lived, whom though he was generally [Page 50] reputed to be an honest man, yet he was much opposed as holding grosse errors in his Judgement, and hearing many speak very bitterly against him, I did much ponder it in my heart, not da­ [...]ing (as Nicodemus spake concer­ning Christ, John 7. 50.) to judge before I heard, and therefore I resolved to speak with him, which accordingly I did, and found him speaking such things as I never heard before, which I then ignorantly judged to be er­rors; the things he chiefly spake of, was about Free Grace, the nature of the Gospel, and the New Covenant; and though I was not able to gain say the truth of what he spake, yet for fear of those evill consequences that a carnal heart might draw from them, I could not receive it. But after some discourse, in much opposition, yet not bitter a­gainst [Page 51] him, in the close he desi­red to lend me a book, in which (he said) concerning the things he spake I might find better satis­faction than he could give, being but weak in expression; so I took it home with me, but being much afraid of error, I was at a great dispute in my own spirit whether I should read it or not; but fearing lest I should seem to shut my eyes against the light, at last I came to this result, that I would read it, but first set a part a day by fasting and prayer to seek the Lord, that what was truth in it I might embrace, and that he would keep and preserve me from error (which accord­ingly I did) and finding the drist and scope of the book was to exalt God, and lay low the Creature, I was much affect­ed with it, as also with some [Page 52] other particulars; but on the o­ther hand these Ministers (whose words were then as Oracles to me) did so much cry out against it, charging all to take heed of it, it being full of errors of dan­gerous consequences, that when I came about the middle of it I was so surprised with fear of car­nal liberty, meerly by their words, that I durst read it no further, but sent it home again, resolving to stick to my old principles, and so resolved I was, that I judged it my duty, and accordingly did praise the Lord, that I had escaped that snare and stumbling block which it was like to be to me, till about half a year after, these forementioned Ministers not being satisfyed to speak against those books in pri­vate only, but brought them in­to their Pulpits reading particu­lar [Page 53] passages, which as they read and applyed it, was contra­ry to the sense of it, and some­times I thought they spake more than was true, which did occa­sion me to desire the book a­gain for my better satisfaction: but they not being allowed to be sold at that time, it was hard to get any of them, but through mercy I got one, and then I found they did not deal faithfully, but did wrest and draw false con se­quences contrary to the drist and scope of it, all which occasioned serious thoughts in me, remem­bring when I first read it I laid it aside meerly from a spirit of fear and prejudice occasioned by their words, and not that I was able to disprove it from Scrip­ture grounds; then remembring those words of the Apostle, I Thes. 5. 21. Try all things, and [Page 54] hold fast that which is good, I thought it my duty to lay aside all slavish fear and prejudice, and to try it exactly by the Scriptures, believing that as it was Gods way to try, so he would assist me in it, which he was plea­sed to do, and as I read I began to be much affected, and I thought it was glad tidings and good news if it were true, but I thought it was too good to be true; for I could not then be­lieve that God was so free of his Christ, as to give him to any o­ther sinners but to such as were qualified, fitted, and prepared for him, or that the way to glo­ry was so easy as he seemed to mak it, for if it were so, then all that labour and travel which I had been a long time in, was no­thing, which I could by no means yield to at that time. For as [Page 55] Christ once said to the Jews that Publicans and Harlots enter into the Kingdom before them, Mat. 21. 31. so truly I found it so hard to lay down my own legal righ­teousness, and to submit to the righteousness of God by Faith, according to Rom. 10. 3. that I was like to stick here, when such as were more profane might re­ceive the truth sooner. But seri­ously weighing these with some other such like Scriptures, as Rom. 4. 4. and 5. 8. Ephe. 2. through grace I was in a great measure convinced and brought to see that I had been exceedingly mi­staken in my understanding and applying of Jesus Christ, and whereas I thought I had attained a good degree of knowledge, I now saw my self to be very igno­rant, and must begin again to learn the first principles of the o­racles [Page 56] of God, which to suffer so much loss was very hard to me (at the first) but God was pleased by degrees to strip me of all, and to shew me such a beauty and excel­lency in the Lord Jesus above it, that I was made not only willing but joyous to lay down all at his feet, and I trust could truly say with the Apostle, That what was gain to me, I counted loss for Christ, yea doubtless and I count all things but losse for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, &c. Phil. 3: 7, 8, 9, &c. and as God had exalted Christ to be a Prince and a Saviour, Acts 5. 31. and had chosen him as the only excellent one in whom he had placed life and salvation for [Page 57] people, Mat. 12. 18. so my soul did approve of it to be the most excellent way, and I trust could truly say with the Spouse, he is the chiefest of ten thousand, ye he is one, and there is not another, Cant. 5. 10. Act. 4. 12. and the more I came to apprehend the glory of the Gospel in the free tenders and invitations of Christ to sinners, the more still I was affected with it, and did admire it, and seeing the tenders of grace so free, and the invitations so general that whosoever would come might come and take of the water of life freely, Esay 55. 1. Revel. 22. 17. and that whosoe­ver came to Christ he would in no wise cast out, John 6. 37. by which word [come] I understood belie­ving, vers. 40. and then consider­ing the nature of the covenant, that it is a covenant of grace free [Page 58] and without all conditions on the creatures part, and that the conditions stand only between God and Christ, as I then under­stood by these Scriptures, Esay 53. 10. Psal. 89. Through these con­siderations I was not only encou­raged, but the abounding love of Christ did compell and constrain me to cast my self upon him for life and salvation, in a way of be­lieving, and not in a way of wor­king; and to the praise of his grace as I desire never to forget it. I did at this time receive the assurance of the love of God in believing the free and full par­don of all my sins; That God had laid them all upon Christ, and beholding the travel of his soul, was satisfyed, Esay 53. 11. and well pleased with me in him Mat. 3. 17. and that they were all car­ried into the wildernes of forget­fulness, [Page 59] and buried in, Oblivi­on, according to that type of Christ, Levit. 16. 21, 22. and that they were washed away in his blood, Revel. 1. 5. and that God would remember them no more, Heb. 8. 12. and 10. 17. These Scriptures, with some others of the like nature, were by the Spi­rit of God set home so power­fully upon my heart at that time, that truly I cannot express the joyfulness and sweetness of my condition, not being able to contain my self from calling to others to tell them what God had done for my soul, how he had brought me out of bondage into the glorious liberty of adoption, and filled me with joy and peace in believing, yea with joy un­speakable and full of glory, Rom. 15. 13. 1 Pet. 1. 8. and I remem­ber for a long time after I did de­light [Page 60] to be almost continually speaking or meditating of the glory of the free grace of God in the Gospel, and of his boun­ty and goodness to poor sinners, and to me the chief of sinners, for I know more evill by my self than I do by any other, yet doubtless I can say as it was once said of the Thessalonians, The Gos­spel came not to me at that time in word only, but in power, and much assurance, and joy in the Holy Ghost, 1 Thes. 1. 5. and whereas formerly I thought that to receive such a principle was the ready way to be loose and carnal, I did believe that as ju­stification and sanctification are inseparable, 2 Thes. 2. 13. and that as one end of Christs death was as well to redeem his people from all iniquity and the power of sin, as from the punishment of [Page 61] sin, so the power of grace was more strong and able to keep me from sin, than all the legal bands and slavish fears in the world, Tit. 2. 11. and though possibly I might meet with some temptations of that nature, yet to the praise of his grace, I can truly say I never found my heart more engaged for God and godliness, and more disingaged from sin, than now, which the Lord keep me so and all his, Amen.

Some brief Observations from this third note of Experience.

FIrst, concerning my con­fidence in my former con­dition, before I knew these things, from thence I observe,

That persons may be very con­fident on false grounds,

And that it is not the confidence that makes the condition good, but the grounds of it.

For though still I say I am inclined to own the work of conversion to be begun in me [Page 63] at that time before said, by some accidental or provi­dential scatterings of the seed of the Gospel, yet, through false teaching, those seeds were so buried under the a­shes of legal righteousness, that there was a greater po­wer required to blow off those ashes, and to carry on that work, than if it had never been begun, according to that foremen­tioned place, Matth. 21. 31. how hard then must it needs be to begin that work where there is only such a righteousness? from thence I observe,

That Legal righteousnesse (where the work of conversion is begun in a soul) is a great ob­struction to the carrying on, and perfecting of that work.

Secondly, Concerning the manner of the dealings of God with me in the manifestation of his Love and Grace, which was at this time by reading, as in­deed however God is plea­sed to deal with others, yet with me, I cannot say but what I have received I have alwaies received by and through some means, from whence J observe,

That it is good to wait on [Page 65] God in the use of all means; for though the holy One of Israel is not limitted, yet ordinarily he works by means, and leaves no ground in holy Scripture to expect him out of means.

Thirdly, Concerning my idolizing those fore-menti­oned Ministers, being kept by it from reading or hear­ing any other doctrine but theirs, from thence I observe,

That it is a dangerous thing to esteem of persons above what is meet, and to be implicitly lead by them in spiritual things.

Fourthly, Concerning my not receiving the doctrine of Free Grace for fear of carnal [Page 66] liberty, from thence I ob­serve,

That such as are ignorant of the Free Grace of God are sub­ject to this mistake, to think it the way to sin, when indeed there is no true holiness without it.

Fiftly, concerning its be­ing so hard to me to lay down my own righteous­ness, &c. and yet that I should do it with so much Joy, when I saw cleerly the righteousness of Christ to excell all, from thence I observe,

That though it is a very hard [Page 67] thing for persons (eminent in le­gal righteousness) to lay it down, and submit to the righteousness of God by faith, yet the ap­pearance of the transcendent ex­cellency of Christs righteous­ness, will make them do it with joy.

Sixthly, Concerning my being so much affected with the Free Grace of God at my first receiving it, that I could not but declare it to others, from thence I ob­serve,

That the glad tidings of the Gospel being applyed by the Spirit of Christ, so glads the heart, that when the soul first [Page 68] receives it its like fire that can­not be hid.

Seventhly, Concerning the effect of the Free Grace of God upon my heart, engaging me more to him­self, and disingaging me more from sin, from thence I observe,

That there is no engagement so strong to keep the soul from sinning against God, as the Free Grace of God, nor no­thing more endeers the heart to God; Yet doubtless where there is nothing but only the notion of it, there is the greatest advan­tage to Satan that can be, and usually such persons are the worst of all others.

For though Gospel bonds be the best to be tyed from sin by, yet in many re­spects its better to be tyed by Legal bonds than none at all; yet for Saints to be so tyed is not only carnal and below their pri­vilege, but a great disho­nour to Christ, and an un­dervaluing of the Free Grace of God, which above all things ought to be exalted by us, as that alone by which we are truly exalted, and therefore ought to ly as the strongest engage­ments on Saints hearts to keep them from sin; and [Page 70] seeing all that we are, have, or ever shall have as to hap­piness here, or glory here­after, is all of Grace, I de­sire for ever to admire it, and to live in the glory of it by faith; But this I find of all other the hard­est Lesson, yea so hard, that unto this day I have cause to complain of an unbelieving heart in many things, and I have often experienced that to bring over the heart to believe, and to keep it up in be­lieving, is no less than the mighty power and gift of God, John 6. 65. Phil [Page 71] 1. 29. Ephesi. 1. 19. yet in this I have strong con­solation, that I am kept by his power, 1 Peter 1. 5. and he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee, Hebrews 13. 5. and as the Lord once said to Peter, Though Satan should desire to wi­now me like Wheat, yet he hath prayed for me, and my Faith shall not fail; and though the ve­ry reason why some per­sons do not believe, is for want of a clear under­standing of the Free Grace of God in the general [Page 72] tenders of it to sinners, yet all that have that un­derstanding do not be­lieve, John 12. 17. there were some whose hearts were hardned that they could not believe, and Acts 13. 41. it was said of the Jews, they should in no waies believe the Work of God, though a man declare it to them, that is to say, though they did understand it; and as Faith is wrought in the soul by God, so it is that by which we most honour him, and with­out which it is impossible [Page 73] to please him. Faith works many waies, and it is an excellent thing to be strong in faith, as we may see in those Worthies, He­brews 11. It is the very life of Saints, Galatians 2. 20. and without it there is no life in them, John 6. 53. and as there is no life without it, so there is no life above it till grace be swallowed up in glory; For the just shall live by faith, Hebrews the 10. verse 38. but though faith acts many waies, and about many things, yet it must alwaies act in free grace, [Page 74] and there is no room for it elsewhere: for when we go to exercise faith out of Free Grace, it is weak, and feeble, and ready to be turned aside by the least repulse, but being there acted, all falls before it, as Dagon before the Ark, whe­ther sin, law, or devill; Sin falls before it, as its an Instrument or means by which God purifies the heart, Acts 15. 9. the law falls before it, as it takes the righteousnes of Christ by which it is per­fectly fulfilled, Rom. 10. 4. Satan falls before it, as it is that by which we quench all his fiery darts, Ephes. [Page 75] 6. 16. And as in this way I did at first receive the pardon of sin, and so the knowledge of my interest in the Lord Jesus, for Justification, Redemption and Salvation; So I have no other way (as I believe there is no other) by which I still retain those glorious pri­vileges, than in the same way in which I did first receive them, namely through grace by faith, not by any thing that is in me, or done by me, not by acts of obedi­ence, works of righteous­ness, or submission to or­dinances, all which are too [Page 76] low and too little to keep up my union with God; but I desire to ap­pear in these as they are commanded by God, and as they are fruits and ef­fects of faith, and through which I have communion with God and his people, which is a very great pri­vilege, and I desire that all Saints may so esteem of them, and by no means slight them; but I do likewise desire that none may esteem of them above whats meet, as to glory in them, or to place that in them which is only peculiar to the Lord [Page 77] Jesus himself, who is our All in All, Colossi. 3. 11. Who of God is made unto us wis­dome, righteousness, sanctifica­tion, and redemption, that he that glorieth may glory in the Lord, 1 Cor. 1. 30, 31. And doubtless it is a great abuse to Christ, and Ordinances, to glory in them, which we are subiect to do, when we live not in the beholding of him through the riches of his grace by Faith, which as I said before, is the highest life, and so far as I have experienced the excellency and glory of it, I can say with the Apostle, I desire to [Page 78] know nothing but Christ and him crucified, 1 Cor. 2. 2. and God forbid that I should glory in any thing save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, Gal. 1. 14. I may further say of my experience in this matter, as David of the Sword of Goliah, There is none like it, 1 Sam. 21. 9. or as the Apostle said to the Corin­thians, That though they had ten thousand Instructors, yet not many Fathers; so though I had ten thousand expe­riments, yet I have none like this; For all must cen­ter here, and without [Page 79] this all is nothing; And herein me thinks the glo­ry and excellency of the life of faith in Free Grace doth much appear, in that the weak and strong Christi­an do both meet and are satisfyed in it, the highest capacity may be exercised in learning more of it, and yet the lowest may reach it, so as to live and have strong consolation in it, and Fools shall not erre therein, Isaiah the 35. chapter, verse 8. This is that new and living way by the blood of Jesus, Hebrews ch. 10. verses 19, 20. [Page 80] the richest and highest fa­vour that ever was bestowed on the children of men, to him therefore be glory and praise for evermore.

The fourth Note of Experience, how I was convinced and brought to submit to Baptism and Church-fellowship commanded by Christ.

BEing through mercy now well satisfied in point of Ju­stification, Redemption, and Salvation, though I had nothing to do to be saved, yet I had much to do to glorifie God in relation to Sanctification and Obedience; but notwithstanding all my for­mer experience in point of Faith, I was very ignorant of Baptism, and all other duties and Ordinan­ces relating to the visible practice of Believers, onely I had some dark apprehensions of separation, and a Church way, by reason of [Page 82] which I had thoughts to join with some who were called Inde­pendents; but considering how I had formerly been mistaken a­bout things of that nature, I was not hasty to practise it, untill I was better satisfied, being some­what at a loss about it; then after some time I heard of Baptism, though I had no acquaintance with any that practised it, yet knowing there were such, did occasion me to search the Scrip­tures about it, and by several places in the Acts, with that in Mat. 28. 19. I was in a great measure convinced that Baptism of Believers was an Ordinance of Christ, and that there could be no true Church without it, and that Baptizing of Infants is that for which I could find no ground in Scripture; and by degrees I was so fully satisfied in it, and I [Page 83] thought the Scriptures were so plain and clear for it, that I did much wonder at my own igno­rance, that I should be a professor so long, and so frequent in rea­ding Scripture, and yet ignorant of that which was so plainly therein exprest; then coming to London to that end, namely to be instructed in the waies of God more perfectly, not knowing the like means else where, I went many times to hear in the Chur­ches of Christ, by which, through the great blessing of God, I was more and more satisfied about it; yet notwithstanding all this, by hearkning to the delusions of my own heart, and Satans instru­ments, I met with many inter­ruptions and temptations that kept me from my duty, at least one whole year after; some of those temptations were these:

First, I thought though the Saints of old did practise these things, yet as they were now practised it was some kind of bondage, and below the privi­lege of the Gospell to be tyed to a particular people, especi­ally in relation to hearing; for I thought I should not forbear hearing some particular men, (who were not in the order of the Gospell) that formerly I u­sed to hear.

A second thing that hindred me was the failings and miscar­riages of some particular per­sons then in the Churches.

A third hinderance was, I thought it my liberty to do or not do it.

A fourth hinderance was in relation to Persecution, I judged I should not be fit to suffer for it (though a truth of Christ) [Page 85] untill all those Scruples were re­moved.

These, with others of the like nature, were the groundlesse thoughts that kept me from my duty; but though kept back by these for a time, yet I had such strong convictions that I could not leave it so, but was much endevouring after satisfaction, and in the use of means God was pleased to satisfy me; but by reason of persecution there was no Church I knew of, but onely in London, and therefore I could not immediately do it; but being to be married soon after, I was to live in London, and then I resolved to submit to this Ordinance of Christ; but when I came to London, I heard all kind of preachers, one of which preached a strange kind of doctrine much notion­al, [Page 86] which bred such a confusi­on in my heart that I knew not what to do, by which I was again hindered from my duty, being willing to try that do­ctrine, I not having heard the like before, it being full of en­tising words of mans wisdome, which I did with as much diligence try for some time, examining the Scriptures about it, as ever I did any doctrine, but could find nothing in it but confusion, a meer sound of words, some of those bigge swelling words of vanity spo­ken of Jude 16. 2 Pet. 2. 18. so, through mercy, I left it, and e­scaped that snare, which I de­sire to remember to the praise of God. Then I resolved to prosecute my former purpose in relation to those duties before mentioned, yet still lingring in [Page 87] Babylon till the Lord was plea­sed by a stretched-out arm, and cleer voice, to bring to my re­membrance those words in the 22. chapter of the Acts verse 6. Arise and be baptized, why tarryest thou? and (as I re­member) for some daies toge­ther, whatever I was doing, those words were much in my thoughts, then I began to take particular notice of it, apply­ing it to my own condition, whether I was able to give a reason why I tarried, the Lord having removed all my scru­ples, and answered all my ob­j [...]ctions, and speaking of it to my Husband, who was then much in the same condition, I remember we had some dis­course about it, and the result was, that the next first day we [Page 88] would go to the Church (where we had often heard) and declare what God had done for us in the great work of conversion, desiring also to obey him in all his commands, which accordingly we did, and gave them full satisfaction, and the week following were bap­tized and added to the Church, being sweetly satisfyed and comforted therein; and as for my former scruples I was trou­bled no more with them, and in particular as to hearing out of the Church, I never de­sired it since, but God was pleased, and still is, to satis­fy me with the fatness of his house, feeding me with green pastures there; and sitting un­der the shadow of Christ, his Fruit is sweet to my tast; [Page 89] which the LORD grant I may be found so doing, as he hath commanded, until his se­cond comming.

Some brief Observati­ons upon this fourth Note of Experience.

FIrst, Concerning those thoughts, that though I had nothing to do to be saved, yet I had much to do to glorify God, &c. from thence I observe.

That as it is the duty of all that have received the Grace of God to be active for his Glory, so it is the nature of Grace to teach and engage Saints to do the same.

Secondly, Concerning [Page 91] my ignorance of Baptism, and other Ordinances, not­withstanding all my for­mer Experience in point of Faith, from thence I ob­serve,

That persons may have much Experience in point of privilege, and yet be ignorant of their duty.

As indeed we are more apt to learn the one than the other.

Thirdly, Concerning my ignorance of that which is so plainly expressed in Scrip­ture, from thence I ob­serve,

That light discovers dark­ness, [Page 92] and though Truth be never so plainly expressed, yet ignorance cannot apprehend it.

Fourthly, Concerning those interruptions and temptations that kept me from my duty, from thence I observe,

That naturally we are so averse to duty, that we are a long time before we know our duties, and when we know them we are subject to be kept from doing them by very tri­fles; and that it is Satans policy, if he cannot keep us from knowing our duties, to cast stumbling-blocks in our way if possible to keep us us from doing them.

2. I observe, That though Christs yoak be easie, yet we are hardly brought to put it on.

Fifthly, Concerning the first hinderance, That I thought it some Bondage to be in a Church, from thence I observe,

That through ignorance of the nature of Christian Liber­ty, we are too subject to think that Bondage which is not only Liberty but a great Privilege.

Sixthly, Concerning the second hinderance, which was the unsuitable walkings of some particular persons then in the Church, from thence I observe.

That the Consideration of our stumbling at the failings of o­thers, should make us carefull lest we occasion others to stum­ble at us.

Seventhly, Concerning the third hinderance, That it was our liberty whether we would walk in Chur­ches and submit to Ordi­nances or not, from thence I observe,

That we are naturally so addicted to liberty, that we are many times ready to cast off all obedience, and to look on the Ordinances of Christ as in­different things.

Eighthly, Concerning [Page 95] the fourth hinderance, Fear­ing lest I had not faith e­nough to suffer for it, from thence I observe,

That distrustfull thoughts of future mercies many times keep us from improving present mer­cies.

Ninethly, Concerning those Convictions, that though I was scrupled a­bout truth, yet could not leave it so, but endeavou­red after full satisfaction, from thence I observe,

That strong Convictions are not easily put out, and where grace is predominant, there will be an endeavour not to smother [Page 96] but to answer them.

Tenthly, Concerning that other hinderance by strange doctrine, from thence I observe,

That as faith comes by hear­ing; so there may be a hearing that tends to the prejudice of faith.

And such I conclude is all hearing out of the way of God, though some more, some lesse; I mean pub­lick hearing out of the Church of God; and though some do iudge it their liber­ty and privilege so to do, I must needs confess I can­not so iudge: For though [Page 97] possibly glorious things may be spoken, yet what privi­lege can it be for Saints to hear glorious things, where there is no promise of a bles­sing from God? and there­fore I may say as the Apo­stle, of speaking in an un­known tongue, I had wra­ther hear five words from a true Ministery, or in a Church of Christ, where he hath promised his bles­sing and presence, than five thousand elsewhere, though I desire in a personal way to own and embrace all or any appearance of God where ever I find it, and can [Page 98] upon that account truly say, I do much respect, love, and delight in some who are not yet come up to the true worship of Christ in his Church, but I must be true to my principles, I cannot see how we that are, according to the Gos­spel, ioyned to the Lord, and his Church, by which we hold out to the world a visible profession of his name, and a separation from all false waies of wor­ship which in our prin­ciples we judge them who are not rightly constituted with us according to the [Page 99] appointment and practice of Christ and his Apostles to be no other, I say I cannot see how we can meet with them in their publique worship, to hear their Ministers, or in any other spiritual duty, but it is a crossing our own principles: As thus, they own themselves true Chur­ches, and Ministers of Christ, the ignorant world knoweth not but they are so, we by our presence being silent do say the same, though in our Judgement we cannot so own them, which is a plain contradi­ction [Page 100] in our principles; we say they are not Chur­ches and Ministers of Christ, by our practice we say they are, as hath been minded.

Secondly, As it is a con­tradiction of our own prin­ciples so it hath had such effects, which are too vi­sible, and remains unto this day. I must confess, in my most serious thoughts I have wondered what should be the reason that any in the house of God should desire to be elsewhere: I am sure there is no reason to be given for it, neither from Scripture, nor expe­rience; therefore I conclude, [Page 101] its either from ignorance, & so persons in their practice cross their own principles and not know it; or else its from corrupt principles; or else they are overcome by some violent temptations. As to the 1. of these, I trust there are not many in the house of God so ignorant. As to the 2. it is the desire of my soul, that God would reprove & shew them the evill of such princi­ples, and recover them out of such snares. As to the 3. Let them take heed lest having put their hand to the plow, and looking back, they be­come unfit for the King­dom [Page 102] of God, Luke 9. 62. and let them likewise take heed of pleasing men, or halting between two opi­nions, but if God be God follow him, if Baal follow him, 1 Kings 28 21. This may seem harsh language to some, but I am satisfyed that what I have written hath not been from a censorious spirit, to Judge of the final State of any, or to question the grace of God in any, where it doth appear in the least measure, and therefore let none say that because I can­not own any to be true Churches or Ministers of [Page 103] Christ, but such as are in the same order with us, that therefore I say there is no­thing of God or Truth in them, or that none shall be saved but our selves, or that we love none but those of our own Judgement, which if any do so think, or speak of us, it is a very great mistake; for if I may speak for others, as I have already said, I do upon a godly account love, and de­light in some who are not in our Churches, and do wait for the accomplish­ment of those glorious pro­mises when they and we shall [Page 104] have a pure language, & shall call upon the Lord, & serve him with one consent, and when we shall have one heart and one way, and there shall be one Lord, and his name one, Zeph. 3. 9. Jer. 32. 39. Zach. 14. 9. In the mean time, Let none un­der a pretence of waiting for the accomplishment of such promises as these, grow cold, and indifferent in the great things of God: For none can truly wait for the accom­plishment of Promises, but such as do wait in a close walking with God, ac­cording to that measure of light received, and [Page 105] so those that have but a little of the knowledge of God, let them follow on to know the Lord, Hosea 6. 3. and let those that are in the faith, earnestly con­tend for it, Jude 3. and such as are in Gospel Chur­ches, let them stand fast in one Spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel, Phil. 1. 27. and let every one that names the name of Christ, depart from iniquity, 2 Timothy 2. 19. and those that love the Lord, hate evil, Psalm 97. 10. And as I de­sire that none may slight, [Page 106] grow cold, or indifferent in the great things of God, under a pretence of waiting for high enjoyments or dis­coveries, which shall be in the later daies; so I desire likewise that none may plead against the Truth, under a pretence of Love, as many do in these daies, labouring to confound light with darkness, truth with error, and to make an a­greement, where God hath made none. Let such know, that true spiritual love, as it is wrought in the heart by the Spirit of God, so it is bounded within the limits [Page 107] of Truth, Love and Truth go hand in hand; it is so fixed upon God, that it Loves all in and for him; spiritual Love must have a spiritual object, and as the obiect is more or less visi­ble, so is that Love, it can­not love every thing alike, nay it works as well by ha­tred of evill as approving that which is good, Psa. 101. Psa. 97. 10. Rev. 2. 6. Psa. 119. 122, 128. It loves that which God loves, and hates that which he hates; it loves the Word of God, the Ordinan­ces of God, and the people of God, and hates all that [Page 108] is in opposition to these, it rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, 1 Cor. 13. 6. This is true spiritual love, in which we are to re­ceive every truth, and by which faith worketh, 2 Thes. 2. 10. Gal. 5. 6. and I dare affirm, whatever persons may pretend of spiritual love that is not of this nature, it is a meer delusion, and that all that fear the Lord ought to take heed of it.

The fift Note of Experience, concerning Notions, and Pre­tended Spiritualities, in which Satan transforms himself into an Angel of light; and how far I was deceived by it, and how the Lord was pleased to recover me out of it.

BEing now through much mercy brought out of Babylon into Sion, to partake of those dainties which the Lord hath prepared for his people, there Satan, that grand Enemy of man­kind, who goeth about like a roar­ing Lion seeking whom he may de­vour, 1 Pet. 5. 8. envies my hap­piness, and waites his opportu­nitie to catch me as a fish in [Page 110] the water, covering his hook with a bait of mystery and spi­rituality, who though I had e­scaped him in all his former ap­pearances as a devill, yet now transforms himself into an An­gel of light, if it were possible for ever thereby to beguile and deceive me; knowing that those that are so deceived are the fittest Agents to promote his Kingdome, and that many times he prevailes this way when he can prevail no other way, draw­ing persons to that by degrees through corrupt principles, which they would have trem­bled at the thoughts of before they had such principles; but God was pleased not onely to keep me from such things, but also discover to me the way by which persons are brought to such things, that so to the praise [Page 111] of his Grace, I might avoid those waies, and also forewarn others to avoid them likewise. But before I was brought to dis­cover Satan under these veiles, by hearkning to the voice of the Tempter (in the thoughts of which I desire ever to be hum­bled in the presence of God) I was deceived and beguiled by him in some particular things, and that after this manner; af­ter we had lived some time in London, walking with the Church, in the practice of the Gospel, it pleased God to re­move our habitation into the Country, where we had not that privilege, and after a while, (my Husband being in the Ar­my) it occasioned our often mo­ving into several places, where we found not only particular persons, but whole Churches [Page 112] very much corrupted, owning & practising strange things, though under plausible terms and spi­ritual pretences, by which a while after they were broken and scattered, leaving the pro­fession of truth in the practice of the Ordinances of Christ, some under one notion, and some un­der another, so that it was hard to find in those parts one par­ticular person that had sound principles, much less a whole Church where there was a pow­erful Ministery, and a wise go­vernment, by reason of which I began by degrees to be some­what confused in Judgement; and truly, when I consider those things, and what temptations I was exposed to at that time, I do not wonder I was so confu­sed, but I rather wonder at the mercy of God that I was not [Page 113] swallowed up with confusion, as many were in those daies, for though I was weak in princi­ples, and by those things some­what confused, yet I do not know that in two or three years time I had received any corrupt prin­ciples; but afterward being with a people where Satan had trans­formed himself into an Angell of light, I think I may say in the high­est degree, under terms of My­stery, Spirit, waiting upon God, and such like, by them I was beguiled and deceived in some particular things, though never in the height of that which was practised by them; the particu­lars about which I was deceived were chiefly these three or four.

First, Concerning godliness being a mystery, that it did con­sist of something within, and not of something without, and [Page 114] and that the Saints were to ex­pect life and Salvation from a Christ within, and not from a Christ without.

Secondly, that Saints were not to do duties by or from a command without, but from a command within, and that the word Command in Scripture was not a command to them till they had a word within them.

Thirdly, that as to the time of doing duties they were to wait for the movings of the Spirit to carry them forth to it, and this they called waiting for a power, and till they had such a power, they were to do nothing but sit still and wait, and this not on­ly in private duties, but in the Church also, not owning any Ministery by way of gifts or office, but to come together, and there fit and wait till they [Page 115] had a power, and then to speak, whether men or women.

In these particulars, which carri­ried such a face or shew of spiri­tuality, I was corrupted, but did never fully own them in Judge­ment, nor practice; and for such principles as (I thought) did lead to loosness, either in matter of conve [...]sion, or in slighting the Churches or ordinances of Christ, I did alwaies oppose them, though I believe such princi­ples do naturally follow the o­thers, but I did not then discern it, they being covered over with such Angel-like appearances; And as to that principle of wai­ting, though I did own it in Judgement more fully than any of these other, yet I could neve [...] come up to it in my practice in private duties, but by reason of some convictions still remaining [Page 116] in me I could not stay so long from duty till I had such a pow­er, but did frequently go to du­ty when I had it not, though sometimes I thought I had it. But in the presence of others I did not appear in duty, but when I thought I had that power, though I never did so appear but in one place for a short season, in doing which I thought I had commu­nion with God; but I do believe it was no such thing, but a meer Spirit of delusion: First because I know no Scripture-ground for such a practice; and secondly from the consideration of the sad fruit I had by it, for after a little time I began to lose my peace, and was very much troubled, having little or no communion with God, nor scarce any thing to speak to or for God, and so confounded I was in my own [Page 117] spirit, that I knew not what to do, and speaking of it to some, and those not a few, they labo­red to perswade me it was a dis­pensation of God, and that the Saints after they were brought out of Egypt, must be in the wil­derness before they come to Ca­naan, and that the end of God in bringing them there was, that he might speak comfortably to them, and therefore I was not to be troubled, but to be quiet, fit still, and wait, and not to stir the Lord till he pleased; this did not at all satisfy me, but I continued in a very sad conditi­on; and one thing more by the way I cannot forget, and that is, that while I was in this con­dition, I never was so troubled with temptations as I was at that time; One temptation which I [Page 118] was troubled with many years before, I was kept from until at this time, which now was more violent than at first, as indeed those things naturally lead to such temptations, which tempta­tion is the same expressed in the beginning of the book page 25.

This was the sad fruit of my straying from the pure waies of truth, which as I desire ever to own with shame to my self, so likewise considering the tempta­tions I was exposed to, and the little means I had to forewarn and keep me from such things, I desire for ever to bless the Lord that I strayed no further; that though in these things I had much forgotten him, yet he was pleased to remember me, and shewed me the evil and danger of these notions, and restored me to those former joies that once I [Page 119] had in him, and made that which was intended by Satan to over­throw me, to be of great advan­tage to me, which he was pleas­ed to do after this manner.

Having some occasion to un­dertake a passage on the Sea from London to Newcastle, in which condition it pleased the Lord to reprove me by the raging waves of the Sea, and tempestuous storms, then began my trouble to increase, but not so much from that which was without, as from something within, the waves of the Sea not beating so fast on the Ship, as the waves of temptati­ons did arise in my heart, being in a very much-troubled dissa­tisfyed condition, not finding my heart willing to submit to God, neither indeed knowing how to behave my self towards him in relation to the present [Page 120] trouble, all which was occasi­oned by those corrupt principles, being at a great loss whether I should now pray or wait for a power, not being sensible of a­ny other power at that time but what was from the present trou­ble, to put me upon it; but in this trial I was glad to betake my self to my former principles, the Lord bringing to my remem­brance that command and pro­mise, Psa. 50. 15. by which I was encouraged to cry to God, as in­deed I could not, nor durst not forbear; for still owning my in­terest in God, by which I was made capable of prayer, I could not answer that, with such other like Scriptures, as 1 Thes. 5. 17. &c. but yet notwithstanding I was dissatisfyed about it, that noti­on of waiting carrying such a shew of spirituality, I could not [Page 121] easily let it go, but yet this try­all had so shaken it, that I did begin much to question it, and also those other notions of the like nature; then it pleased the Lord to bring us safe to Land, through which mercy I had some little communion with God, be­ing able to speak of his good­ness in delivering us from that danger, but through that dissa­tisfaction, which still remained in me about these notions, it was interrupted again, and my be­loved had withdrawn himself, and I was very much troubled, not knowing where to rest, nor what to do, but notwithstanding I did begin much to question those things from that trial I had of them on the Sea, yet I was more inclined to them than to truth, for some time, espe­cially to that of prayer, and [Page 122] three or four times after I re­member in discourse with some friends I did a little plead for them, which though it was my sin so to do, I did not then know it, but must needs say I did as simply and sincerely aim at doing the wil of God in all those things, as ever I did in any thing, and therefore though Satan had so beguiled me, yet I obtained mer­cy, because I did it ignorantly; but my trouble and want of communion with God did still increase, insomuch that I was scarce able to bear my burthen, and speaking of it to my Hus­band, who was at that time much in the same condition, I remember, amongst many words he spake, some were to this purpose, That seeing we were in such a condition, and at such a loss, it was best to speak [Page 123] but little, that as we did but lit­tle good, we might do but lit­tle harm, which I did well ap­prove of, and after that I spake little for or against any thing till I was better satisfyed; then being so truly in a day of adver­sity, according to that counsel of the Wise man in Eccles. 7. 14. I sate down seriously to consider what might be the cause of my being in so sad and strange a condition; Through which con­sideration by degrees I came to see and conclude▪ that certainly there was something amiss in my Judgement as to those notions, beginning clearly to discern they did so oppose and contradict my former received principles, that they could not stand toge­ther, but if one was true, the other was false, and that I must leave the one or the other; for [Page 124] though I had received the new, I could never fully quit the old, neither in Judgement nor pra­ctice. Then I was restless in my desire for three or four daies, to know which of the two were truth, oft times earnestly beg­ging of God that he would de­cide the controversie, and disco­ver to me which was according to his mind, and which not, be­ing fully satisfied that but one of them could be truth; then it pleased the Lord to put me upon a particular examination what grounds I had in Scripture, and what experience I had of both, & in reading and examining my Scripture-grounds, I began to discern a great inclination in my heart to the former principles, finding (I thought) the Scripture very full and plain for them, but nothing for the other, but what [Page 125] was from some dark mysterious interpretations, which were ve­ry doubtfull; and for my own experience, I did remember, and was constrained to acknowledge, that in receiving and keeping close to the fotmer, I had joy and peace, and much satisfacti­on, and communion with God, but since I received the other, the Lord had as it were hid his face from me, and I was filled with confusion and distraction, and the remembrance of that tryall I had of them upon the Sea did very much help me now to see the falsity of them, that in a time of tryal I durst not stick to them; as indeed I plainly saw that I could never stick to them so as to answer them fully in my practice, unless I should have laid aside the appearance of god­liness, & have been very profane: [Page 126] the consideration of which, with some other evill consequences, which I saw cleerly did natural­ly attend those things, was ano­ther means by which the Lord was pleased to recover me from them, and to discover Satan un­der his veil to me, how by these things he did intend, if the Lord had not prevented him, to have stript me of all my hopes; and in particular as to that of being sa­ved by a Christ within, and not by a Christ without, the Lord was pleased to shew me that it was quite another thing differ­ing from the Gospel, and that it was attended with this evil con­sequence, even to overthrow the whole Gospel, and to deny the Lord that bought them; at the thoughts of which my soul did tremble, and that if he should have prevailed here, all my hopes [Page 127] were gone; for I could not, nor durst not rest on any thing in my self as a ground of hope for life and salvation; but on the o­ther hand concerning my hope in the Lord Jesus Christ accor­ding to the Gospel, I could tru­ly say of that as Peter did, John 6. 68. Lord whither shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life, so whither should I go from the Gospel? there are the words of eternal life, there is all my rest and hopes in the Lord Jesus through the Gospel, and there­fore I resolved in the strength of Christ to stick to this, and leave the other. Then secondly as to that of waiting for a power to pray, and that there was no com­mand but from within, concern­ing both these the Lord was plea­sed to shew me that it was not ac­cording to his mind, but a meer [Page 128] invention of Satan, by degrees to draw me from my duties, and that it was attended with this evil con­sequence, even to slight the Scriptures and commands of God, and to expose the Soul to Satans deceivings, to walk by the imaginations of their own hearts, instead of the motions of the spi­rit, and also it brings the soul into great uncertainties, which the truth never doth; but on the other hand to do dueties in obe­dience to the authority and com­mands of God in Scripture, and to pray at all times as we have opportunities, having received a principle of grace by which we are made capable of prayer, I saw this was a cleer and sound truth, not being attēded with any evill consequence, nor bringing the soul into straits and uncer­tainties, but rather gives en­largements [Page 129] in every condition, and therefore I desired likewise to keep close to these, and leave the other; but oh the joy and comfort that was in my Soul at this return! I cannot express it, but this I say, it was to me as life from the dead. And as I was blessing, praising, and magnifi­ing the Lord for his unchangea­ble goodness to me, my Husband, having been some time from me, came home, to whom I did de­clare my condition, and what the Lord had done for me, who, as I have formerly hinted, was much in the same condition with me, who also declared that he had in a measure received the like mercy, which did much in­crease my joy. Then I remember he desir'd we might seek the Lord by prayer, and praise his holy name for these and all his mer­cies; [Page 130] In which duty the Lord was pleased so abundantly to ma­nifest himself to us, thereby te­stifying his acceptance of us, that for a while we sate in admira­tion, neither of us scarce being able to speak for tears; and tru­ly it was such a mercy that I trust we shall for ever admire it, at least in these five particulars.

First, that God should deal so faithfully with us in relation to his promise, that when we were ready to turn to the right hand or to the left, he caused us to hear his voice behind us, saying, this is the way, walk in it, Esay 30. 21.

Secondly, that when we were straying from truth, that the Lord should keep us that we strai­ed no further, that we did not, run to the hight of those no­tions, denying the Churches, [Page 131] and Ordinances of Christ, and blaspheming the truth, as very many did in those times, even de­nying the Lord that bought them.

Thirdly, that the Lord should deal so fatherly and tenderly in his restoring of us, that it was not by any extraordinary afflicti­on or chastisement, neither were we at any time a trouble to the Churches, or grief to any Saint I know of.

Fourthly, that the Lord should be pleased to bring us off so clearly from those things; for many are brought off from them, and yet there is still so much confusion remaining up­on their spirits, that it is hard to discern whether they are brought off or no.

Fiftly, that the Lord should vouchsafe this mercy to both of [Page 132] us, & that at one & the same time; and that at our return he should manifest such a sweet acceptance of us, melting our hearts into tears of joy, to our mutual com­fort in the Lord, and in each o­ther; and so that stream of our hearts being now turned from running after lying vanities, the Lord was pleased to re-establish and confirm us every day more and more in the truth, turning this sad (yet blessed) Experience, to his praise, and our great ad­vantage, the remembrance of which I trust shall be a mercy that shall stand us in stead at times of need, whiles we live; which the Lord grant it may be so, to the ho­nour and praise of his great name and our own peace and happines in himself. Amen.

Some further Considerati­ons relating to this part of my Experience, it be­ing that which I judge so considerable I cannot omit the reviewing of it.

AND the Lord grant I may review it daily, so as to have my heart rai­sed to an holy admira­tion of the goodness and faithfulness of God towards me in it, and that it may all­waies lie as a strong engage­ment upon my heart to love and obey him in all things, [Page 134] which in consideration of his unspeakable mercy is but my reasonable service, Rom. 12. 1. And as I desire for ever to bless the Lord that he was pleased to deliver me from these deceits, so it shall be my prayer that all the Lords people may be delivered from them, and that the rather, because I am perswaded that errors of that nature are the worst of all others, and doubtless they are the greatest mystery of iniquity that ever Satan had on foot in the world. But because I am not willing to pass my sentence without [Page 135] grounds, and because every thing that is reproved is made manifest by the light, and that which doth make manifest is light, Ephes. 5. 13. I desire, according to that light of truth which God hath given to me, farther to consider, not only in gene­ral that those kind of errors are the worst of all others, but more particularly how they are so.

First, I conceive they are the worst of all others, in that they do naturally tend and lead to the highest degree of evill, and that both as they take with gra­cious [Page 136] hearts, and as they take with carnal hearts; First, as they take with gracious hearts they do naturally in­terrupt the souls communi­on with God, and expo­seth it to great temptations, bringing it to straits and extremities, and into the greatest confusion that can be possible, so far as they prevail; and for the truth of this, besides my own ex­perience, I appeal to any experienced Christian if it be not so.

Secondly, as they take with carnal hearts they lead by degrees to the greatest e­vil [Page 137] both in a spiritual and [...] ­vil sense; for such hear [...] not being seasoned wi [...] grace, they run from on [...] notion to another, till they run so high as to stand di­rectly in opposition to Christ and his Gospel: For when they come to be confound­ed and at a loss in their Judgements, and meet with such Temptations, which those errors naturally lead to, they are overcome by them, and under a pretence of living above Ordinances they deny the Ordinances of Christ, and by degrees the whole Word of God, [Page 138] calling it literal and carnal, [...]d under a pretence of spi­ [...]uality, blaspheme the name [...]f Christ, calling him A fleshly Christ, and so denying the Lord that bought them, 2 Pet. 2. 1. and going against such strong convictions and cleer manifestations of light and knowledge, as some have done, doubtless they have fallen into that unpar­donable sin expressed in Heb. 10. and so come at last to jeer and scoff at all appear­ance of godliness; and it makes way for the highest degree of wickedness also in a civil sense, having giv­en [Page 139] themselves up to work all un­cleanness with greediness, Esay 4. 19. and so breaking all bonds, though they had esca­ped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of our Lord, yet being again entangled therein, their latter end is worse than the beginning, 2 Pet. 2. 20. according to that Mat. 13. 43, 44, 45. When the un­clean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none, then he returns, and taketh se­ven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there, and the last state of that man is worse than [Page 140] the beginning; he is now far more wicked than ever: this is the nature, and these are the effects of those kind of notions as they take with carnal hearts; and that it is so, I appeal to the times in which we live, if we have not seen it so with many who had escaped the pollutions of the world, and that evil spirit seemed to be gone out of them, and they have made large professions of the power of truth in their hearts, but they are turned with the dog to his vomit, and with the sow that was washt to her wal­lowing [Page 141] in the myre, glory­ing in their shame, and do­ing that without any reluc­tancy, which they would have trembl'd at the thoughts of before they had those no­tions, and if any should have prophesied such things of them, they would have said as Hazael did to Elisha, Is thy servant a dog that he should do such things? 2 Kings 8. 13. These things considered, is a sufficient ground for me to conclude, that errors of that nature are the worst of all o­thers.

But secondly, as they are the worst in that they natu­rally [Page 142] lead to the highest de­gree of evil, so they are the worst in that they are the greatest mystery of iniquity, so more deceiving than o­thers; that they are so, it will appear, if we consider, first, how covertly, and under how many veils Satan comes in them, beguiling and de­ceiving with the most plau­sible, spiritual, Angel-like glorious appearances that can be expressed, and as it said of the false Prophets, Mat. 7. 15. They come in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves; so it may be truly said of those notions, [Page 143] they are clothd with glorious and Christ-like appearances, but when we see to the botom of them, they differ as much from Christ, as a ravening wolf from a sheep: for they do not only beguile and de­ceive in that they are not what they seem or pretend to be, and in that they do not give what they promise, viz. high lights, glory, per­fection, immediate commu­nion with the father, & such like; But as a ravening wolf, so far as they prevail, they devour and destroy by de­grees all appearance of good, and therefore the Apostle [Page 144] calls them perverse things, Acts 20. 30. and 2 Pet. 2. 1. they are called damnable here­sies, and pernitious waies, and big swelling words of vanity, ver. 18. words that will eat as doth a Cancker, 2 Tim. 2. 17. And because they are so apparent­ly a mystery of iniquity, that is (I conceive) the reason why the Apostle gives so many ex­hortations, and doth so often forewarn the Saints to take heed of them: for questi­onless they are the very same errors which are mentioned in those Scriptures, and we may know them to be so, in that they carry the very same [Page 145] badges and marks expressed in those Scriptures, as

First, in relation to the rise of them, which was not from the false Prophets of the world, but from false Brethren in the Church, and others such like, who pro­fessed an opposition to those false Prophets; and the place and people among whom they were most pre­vailing, was not with igno­rant persons in the world, but among knowing persons, and in the Churches of Christ; all which is the ve­ry same exprest in the fore­mentioned Scriptures, as [Page 146] Acts 29. with the rest.

A Second mark by which we may know them to be the same, is in relation to the nature and effects of them, as is already expressed, namely, that persons have been led by them to the highest degree of wickedness, waxen worse and worse till they have been as vile as hell it self, and par­ticularly denying the resur­rection of the body, and the Lord Jesus Christ, with the like.

2. they will appear to be the greatest mystery of i­niquity, in that Satan makes use of them to do his great­est [Page 147] works, which is to over­come the Saints, and to en­counter with such as have the greatest strength to resist him, and such as have es­caped him in all his other ap­pearances, he now makes use of them as things that are most strong to deceive by, as we may remember how ex­ceedingly he did prevail with them about five or six years since in this nation, when it was hard to find one person, much less a whole Church, that was not cor­rupted with them; at which time was the height of their reign in general, though in [Page 148] some places many particular persons are enslaved by them unto this day; some under one name, some under ano­ther; at which time before­mentioned my self did expe­rience those expressed in p. 113, 114. which I am per­swaded I should not have done, had they not been so general, and of such a bewit­ching deceiving nature; for I can truly say, so far as I did experience them, I was meerly deceived and begui­led from an apprehended worth and excellency in them; and as it was with me, so I believe it was with many [Page 149] others, whom the Lord hath recovered from them. But

Thirdly, they will ap­pear to be of a strange decei­ving nature, and so the grea­test mystery of iniquity, if we consider, that many of the most eminent Saints in those daies were most incident to be deceived by them, I mean the most eminent as to per­sonal grace and qualificati­ons, and as to a strict con­versation, though I cannot say as to a sound Judgement, in knowledge and under­standing of the principles of truth; for questionless there was somthing of that nature [Page 150] wanting; for had they been as well principled in truth, as they were really united to truth, they would have dis­cerned Satan at a distance, and not been so deceived by him; and that I conceive was the very reason why so many were deceived in those daies: for having been a long time in darkness and igno­rance, being but newly brought from under the Bi­shops and Presbyterian yokes, they were generally weak in Judgement, though (it may be) strong in affecti­on, and so the more easily deceived; like children rea­dy [Page 151] to catch up any thing that hath a glorious appearance, not weighing and consider­ing whether it be really so.

Another reason I conceive why such precious ones were so subject to be deceived in those daies, was from an ex­treme in minding truth as it relates to the inward man in point of experience, and in­ward workings; which is in it self very good; but be­ing in an extreme on that hand, Satan took advantage by it, and presented things in a plausible seeming spiri­tual appearance, beguiled and deceived them before they [Page 152] were aware. We are subject to extremes on all hands; some do mind truth so much in an outward way as it re­lates to Order and Ordinan­ces, as Baptism, Church-fel­lowship and the like, that they mind little else as to the end of these; and some are in the extreme on the other hand, and so while they were eagerly pursuing after the mystery of truth as to their intentions, they were be­guiled with the mystery of iniquity: much like that of the Jews concerning the Law Rom. 9. 3. They sought after righteousness, but did not attain [Page 153] it, Wherefore? because they sought it not by faith: So these sought after truth really as to their intentions, but did not attain it, wherefore? be­cause they sought it not in the way of God; They sought it not in his way as it relates to the Ordinances and com­mands of Christ, in way of obedience and privilege to­gether, but only as it relates to the inward man by way of privilege; and as the Jewes were strict in legal righte­ousness, so these did not run into waies of sin; neither (I believe) can many of them charge themselves with any [Page 154] sin as that which occasioned it at first, but only weakness in Judgement, not being well principled, and so not having an equal esteem of all truth.

Another reason why ma­ny Saints were so deceived in those daies, as I apprehend, was, That they being but newly come to the faith were expos'd to great temptations, having but little means of strength against them, it may be far from a Church, or else in a Church where were false Teachers, as in those dayes there were very many, by rea­son of which many were de­ceived; [Page 155] whereas others, who were as weak, if not weaker, being in Churches where there were sound Teachers, were kept from them: which may be a caution, as to parti­cular persons, to take heed what and whom they hear, so to Churches, who they permit to be Teachers, and not to suffer any unsound doctrine to be taught. It may also be a word of remem­brance to all that do enjoy this great mercy to have sound and faithful Teachers, highly to esteem them for their works sake, and to account such worthy of double honour, giving [Page 156] them all due respect and en­couragement, that they may do their work with joy, and not with grief, according to Hebrews 13. 17. 1 Thessal. 5. 12, 13. 1 Timothy 5. 17. Other reasons may be given for the Saints mistake in those things, but I shall mention no more, intend­ing only my own experi­ence. For I can truly say, that upon a diligent search and enquiry what might be the cause of my own mi­stakes, I find them to be no other but these very things exprest. As

First I was weak in prin­ciples, [Page 157] as indeed I had never been under much means to be otherwise.

Secondly, I am conscious to my self of some extreme in minding truth as it relates to the inward man, though truly I know not that I did slight any Ordinance or com­mand of Christ, but that I did rather highly esteem of them; but not to lessen sin, it is possible there may be something of that nature, though I know it not.

Thirdly, I am sure I was exposed to great temptations of this kind, having little means of strength against [Page 158] them, finding so many cor­rupted, though through mer­cy it is better now, that breach being made up with great advantage, for which I desire with all Saints to praise the Lord for ever; for doubtless the Saints advan­tage in their enlarged expe­rience and confirmation in the truth is so great by these things that I cannot expres it. Again, it calls for praise, that as the Lord hath turned it to our great advantage, so he hath wonderfully disap­pointed the expectations of the devil, and wicked men, who were ready to say as in [Page 159] Psa. 35. 25. All so would we have it, verily concluding, that though they could not suppress us by their persecu­ting power, yet now we would destroy our selves, as indeed we might have so done, had not the Lord pre­vented; and we may say it was the Lords doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.

And whereas some by rea­son of those things have been ready to question our pra­ctice, whether it be of God; Let them know, that there is no ground from thence to question it, seeing it is no more than what hath been [Page 160] in those Churches in the A­postles daies, and what they did foretell should be in these daies, 1 Corinth. 15. 12. 1 Timothy 1. 19. 2 Timothy 2. 18. 2 Peter 2. 12. Acts 20. 30. But if it were a safe ground to judge of truth by what hath appeared in relation to those things, then there is more ground of confirmation that what we practise is of God, seeing that notwithstanding those things we have been so won­derfully preserved as we are unto this day; but though these things may be some­thing as to the ignorant, yet [Page 161] yet the rule by which we judge of our practice, is only as it hath its ground and rise in holy Scripture, being built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief Corner Stone: There­fore it hath never been any scruple at all to me; for though some have denyed the Churches, and turned their ears from hearing the truth, and have turned to fables, yet the Churches and truth is the same, as God is the same.

Now as for the grounds or reasons why some of the [Page 162] Saints themselves have so done, I shall say nothing, because, as I said before, I in­tend no more but my own experience, and through the mercy of God I was never so far corrupted as to quest­ion either the Scriptures, Churches, or Ordinances of Christ, much less to with­draw from them, or to give any just occasion to be withdrawn from by them; yet notwithstanding I do not in the least question the reality of those poor souls who have been so far over­come, and are through mer­cy again returned: and as [Page 163] for such as never return, I shall leave them to be judg­ed by the Lord, who only is the judge of those that are without, 1 Cor. 5. 13. Having thus far considered of these allegorical notions, how they are the worst of all errors, and the greatest mystery of iniquity, in that they are more deceiving than others, promising the grea­test good, but leading di­rectly to the greatest evil, and having given some rea­sons, as I judge, why the Saints in these daies have been so generally deceived by them; I shall further [Page 164] proceed to consider what may be the end of God in permitting it so to be.

First, I conceive it may be in general, that such as were approved may be made manifest, agreeable to 1 Cor. 11. 9. which accordingly hath been; many by those things were made manifest to be approved, though o­thers that were not, have appeared to be what they are. But

Secondly, and more par­ticularly, I believe the Lord had many good ends in it, both in relation to himself, in relation to them, and in [Page 165] relation to others of his peo­ple, it may be some that are yet unborn.

First, In relation to him­self, for the exaltation of his praise, that when they should come to see how great their deliverance was, and what an addition to all their former mercies, they might admire his goodness, and break forth into the high praises of his name, and that all the daies of their lives, when this mercy comes into their thoughts. For my own particular I can truly say, that the mer­cy of God to me in rela­tion [Page 166] to those things, I look upon it as the greatest mer­cy that ever I received from the Lord, next the manife­station of his Love in Je­sus Christ through the Gos­pel. But

Secondly, In relation to them so deceived, that they should have enlarged expe­rience of the fulness of God, and of their own nothing­ness, and of the sweetness and excellency of truth a­bove error, how it doth excell it as far as light excells darkness, and live more upon God, and less upon themselves, in faith and [Page 167] humility, and in the in­crease of all grace, in more cleerness of understanding and knowledge of the Truth, for doubtless through the goodness of the Lord, who hath promised to do his people good by every thing, they do gain by it in all these in some measure; for my own particular, I must needs say, though I am still but weak, yet through mer­cy my gain by those things is so great, that I would not be without it, though I desire not to purchase a­ny more at that rate.

Thirdly, In relation to [Page 168] others, that through their experience, they might be the more able to forewarn others, who may meet with the like temptations; for certainly had the Saints in those daies had that ex­perience of Satans work­ings in that nature, which now they have, and had the Mouth of truth been so open against it as it is at this day, it would doubtless have prevented much; and therefore by the way I must needs say, I am perswaded it will be a great aggrava­tion of sin, for any to be taken or held by those [Page 169] things when there is so much means to avoid them, as through the mercy of God there is in these daies almost in every place. Now the Lord having these and other such like ends in per­mitting those things, I de­sire that my self with o­thers, who have experien­ced them in any measure, may be carefull to answer those ends; for doubtless if our deliverance be of God, and that we are cleerly brought off from those con­fusions, we shall answer all those ends of God in some measure.

In the next place, as to the way and means by which the Lord hath been pleased to recover his people from these things, I shall say lit­tle, because I believe it hath been various, some by one means, some by another, as they were in various Con­ditions; for my own particu­lar I have declared at large how it was with me, only these General heads I shall again remind.

First, I was brought into great straits and much con­fusion in Judgement.

Secondly, the Lord was pleased to withdraw his pre­sence [Page 171] from me.

Thirdly, Being sensi­ble of that confusion, and want of communion with God, I was put upon en­quiry into my own heart, what might be the reasons of it.

Fourthly, It pleased the Lord to make me willing to be informed, and to examine things by the Scrip­tures.

Fifthly, he was pleased to draw forth my heart with much earnestness to seek to him by prayer, which through great mercy was largely answered.

And thus I doubt not, but by what I have written it will appear that I have not, without good grounds both from Scripture and experi­ence, Judged those things to be the greated mystery of iniquity, and the most dangerous, and worst of all errors.

And here I cannot but mind something further, as to the continuation of those things, which is, as they are the worst of all others, so their time is short; for according to my most serious observa­tion, wherever they come, [Page 173] and where they continue longest, their rise, reign, and ruin, is all accom­plished in a few years; for in a short time gene­rally persons have been so confounded that they have either come to see them­selves deluded, and so have turned from them, or else they have run to absolute Atheism, and so ended there.

I shall now only answer one objection, as to my own experience, and so end this discourse.

Some have said that I can­not judge of these things [Page 174] by experience, because, ac­cording to what I have de­clared I never had but little experience of them, but only in three or four things, and those I could never ful­ly come up to neither, in Judgement, nor practise, neither could I leave these outward things, which all must leave before they can see the glory of the inward. And those that have not put themselves on such things, but were led to them by the Father, have and do see that glory.

This Objection hath spe­cious words, but weighed [Page 175] in the ballance of the San­ctuary, will be found ligh­ter than vanity, with the rest of the like nature, which, I hope, is already made manifest, only I shall add a few words by way of Answer.

First, for my Experience as to my self in particular, I confess through the mercy of God it was far short of that which many precious ones in those daies fell in­to, yet I can truly say it was so much as did cleer­ly discover to me the na­ture and tendency of them all, to be so vile, that I [Page 176] I do not know any thing that ever I did since I knew God that I can own with more shame to my self than those things.

Secondly, for my expe­rience as to others, I have seen and known that suffi­ciently to satisfy me, that there is no such glory in them but a meer delusion; but I desire to judge by ex­perience no otherwise than as it hath relation to the ho­ly Scriptures; for though I do very highly esteem of Christian experience as to the operations and effects of truth in the soul, as indeed [Page 177] it is the very life of Christi­anity, yet as to rule I value one word of Scripture more than all experience, and I am sure the Scriptures will not own them, which are the rule and touch-stone by which I desire to try and judge all things; For that which the Scripture sets up, they throw down, and that which the Scripture forbids, they set up; for instance, the Scripture exalts the Lord Jesus Christ in all his Actions, Offices and Ordinances, they set up som­thing else in opposition to this, calling it fleshly, carnal, and outward things, and for [Page 178] the fathers leading persons to them, which words car­ry indeed a seeming shew of excellency, but its a meer delusion, There is no such thing; for the Father and Christ are one, and what was appointed by Christ was ap­pointed by the Father, John 10. 3. & 14. 24. and he doth not lead from his own ap­pointments, but those that continue in them he will love, and he will send his Spirit to them, which shall abide with them for ever, Joh. 14. 16. and the Father and Christ will come to them, and make their abode with [Page 179] them, verse 23. I having al­ready written that which may more fully answer this objection, shall say no more, but desire that all the Lords people may be delivered and kept from such deceivings.

The sixt Note of Experience in relation to Qualifications, the habits of Grace or fruits of the Spirit, how and by what means I have and do daily find an increase or decrease in those things.

TO make way for me to lay down my thoughts as to gracious qualifications, I shall first consider the severall kinds of qualifications, which I con­ceive may be three, 1. Moral, 2. Legal, 3. Gospel.

By Moral I mean such as are from Moral dictates meerly from nature, Civility, breeding or e­ducation.

By Legal I mean such as are from legal dictates, meerly from [Page 181] fear of wrath, without any cleer apprehensions of the free grace of God in the Gospel. But here I desire to be very tender, judg­ing that it is possible there may be some seeds of the Gospell sowen in such hearts, by which those qualifications may be wrought, though as yet it may not appear, neither to themselves nor others, that they have recei­ved the Gospel; this only as to possibilities, for ordinarily it is not so.

But thirdly, by Gospel quali­fications, I mean such as are from Gospel dictates, from a cleer ap­prehension of the free grace of God therein, being constrained from the Love of Christ, and in obedience to the commands and authority of Christ, the soul giving up it self in all things to be like him, such as are wrought [Page 182] by the Gospel and spirit received they and they only are the fruits of the spirit; but as for those other qualifications, persons that are ignorant of the Gosspel, and have not received the Spirit, may be eminent in them which in­deed for that they have such a re­semblance of the fruits of the Spi­rit, are great ornaments as to ap­pearance, though as to inward glory they do many times prove miserable ornaments, being props and staies that keep such persons from coming to Christ, and as it was said of the Phari­sees, Mat. 21. 31. Publicans and Harlots do enter into the King­dome rather than they; and this I have experienced, that as to my receiving Christ upon Gos­spel terms, there was nothing so hard to me as to lay aside all those qualifications as I have al­ready [Page 183] exprest in my third and fourth notes of experiences.

Now for the fruits of the spi­rit what they are, is expressed both in general and particular terms, in general Ephes. 5. 9. the fruits of the spirit is in all good­ness, righteousness and truth, more particularly Gal. 5. 22, 23. the fruit of the spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Long suffering, Gen­tleness, Goodness, Faith, Meek­ness, Temperance, &c. also there are other things expressed in o­ther terms in Scriptures which doubtless are likewise fruits of the spirit, though I think with submission to better Judgements all others are included in these, whether it be self denyal, pati­ence, humility, or the like, These things are excellent orna­ments which do adorn Christi­ans in the eyes of men, and do [Page 184] redound much to the glory of God, and therefore very consi­derable for Saints to press after them by all means.

I must confess that in the viewing of my own heart I have many times been much grieved to see how short I come in all these things, but especially in some of them, yet through grace I can say I have received a measure of them all, and by ex­perience do know, if my heart deceive me not, wherein I am weak, and wherein strong, and though I am sure in those in which I am strongest I am but weak, considering how I ought to be.

Now I shall speak a little how and by what means according to my experience, and as I judge ac­cording to Scripture rule, these things do increase or decrease in Saints.

First, I conceive they increase and are strengthened by a close walking with God in all spiritual duties, especially private duties, meditation, self-examination, self-watching, self-judging, self­humbling and prayer, which are indeed such duties, as no hypo­crite can truly do, not that these private duties are above publick but that they prepare for pub­lick, and by these we are acquain­ted with our own hearts, & come to know wherein we are weak, and wherin strong, what we have received, and what we want, and so how to apply our selves to God in publick and private, for the subduing of such a corruption, or for the supply of such or such a grace, and this according to my experience, as I have walked more or less close with God in these private duties, so is my pro­fit [Page 186] in publique duties, and my strength in qualifications, the ha­bits of grace more or less, and I am confident, that such persons as are strangers to these private duties, are also strangers to their own hearts, and will not make a­ny great progress in Christianity; for in the omission of these we are subject to be exercised in things contrary, which do very much interrupt our communion with God, and so weaken the power of every grace in us, or ra­ther weaken the power of grace in all its effects: for these things are not properly graces, but the effects of grace, which are vari­ous, and so improperly call'd gra­ces, as when we do not daily hum­ble our selves before the Lord, we are subject to exalt our selves be­fore men, and when we do not watch our own hearts and judge [Page 187] our selves, we are subject to be judging others, and to watch o­ver them in an evil way, & when we do not dayly meditate on those excellent qualifications that were in Christ himself, we are subject to see little loveliness in them, and so having a light e­steem of them, not to press after them, whereas we are to imitate him in all these things, according to Mat. 11. 28, 29. But secondly, The habits of grace, or fruits of the spirit do increase or decrease as we do more or less exercise that measure of them already re­ceived, and every particular grace is increased by the exercise of it self, and so by much exercise (I mean by dayly acts) they do as it were become natural, as it is said of Timotheus Phi. 2. 20. and the exercise of faith doth directly lead us to the fountain of grace, [Page 188] in beholding of which glory of God we are changed into the same image, 1 Cor. 3. 18. there is such a transforming nature in it, that the very beholding of it transforms us into the same like­ness, Rom. 12. 2. and I can truly say from blessed experience, that in the exercise of that measure of grace I have received, thus lead­ing me to behold the Lord Jesus in what he hath done for me, I have found it more advantagious for the destroying of corruption and for the strengthening me in those things, than in any other means whatsoever; and the rea­son why many persons do sit a long time in the profession of truth, and yet continue weak, ignorant, barren, and fruitless branches, it is because as they are remiss in private duties, so they do not exercise that measure of [Page 189] grace received, and so by a heed­less, careless, carnall walking, the heart grows carnal, and their is rather a decrease than increase in all spiritual strength.

But some will say, can any do these things of themselves? and doth not God give grace freely both in and after conversion?

To which I answer, yea, but in the work of conversion we are passive, I mean as to inward spi­ritual activity, we can do no­thing being dead, according to Ephes. 2. 1. 2 Cor. 5. 14. Joh. 5. 25. not excluding those duties which God requires from all, as hearing the Gospel, reading, &c. through which God hath promised to convey spiritual life, Esay 55. 3. Rom. 10. 17. but after conversion we are active, and therefore com­manded to keep our selves in the love of God▪ Jude 12. To add to our [Page 190] faith, vertue, to vertue knowledge, &c. 2 Pet. 1. 5. with many other such like Scriptures, Not that we are sufficient of our selves to do any thing as of our selves, but our suffici­is of God, 2 Cor. 3. 5. who is pleased to give in dayly supplies, and in the dayly exercise of what we have to give us more, yet all of grace, freely, and so grace for grace, as appears in the 1. of John 6. yet notwithstanding all that I have written, I judge that its possible some Saints may be very diligent in the use of all means, for the subduing of some particular corruptions, and for the supply of some particular grace, and yet not attain it, but God is pleased to withhold it from them, and lest they should be to much exalted, to leave some corruption for them to [Page 191] strive, and struggle with, it may be as long as they live, which for ought I know was Pauls very case 2 Cor. 12. 8. and the Lord may ex­ercise one grace in us by the want of another, yea all by the want of one, not that Saints are with­out all in their nature, but as to a greater measure in some particu­lars; and so far as I have experi­enced, this though I am still sub­ject to suspect my own diligence in the use of means, I can truly say, That God is never wanting in such cases, with supports from himself, saying, my grace is suffi­cient for thee, my power is made manifest in weakness, 2 Cor. 12. 9. and though sin be in you, it shall shall not reign there, neither shall it have dominion over you, be­cause yea are not under the law, but under Grace, Rom. 6. 11, 12, 1 [...]. I shall say no more now of these [Page 192] things, but beg of God that my self with all Saints may press more after them.

The Conclusion.

HAving thus far writtenof my Experience in several general heads, which do include many particular Ex­periments, I had some thoughts to have written of many other things, but my Book being almost full, I shall conclude with a few lines as to Experience it self, what it is, how, and by what means it is attained.

There be various things about which persons may be exercised in way of Experi­ence, yet all may be divided [Page 194] under one of these two heads, its either in relation to the world, or in relation to God; as to that of the World, its all but vanity and vexation of spirit, Eccl. 1. 14. and he that uncreaseth knowledge in those things, increaseth sorrow, verse 18. and though there may be something of that nature convenient for Saints to know upon a natural or civil account, its but perishing at best, and therefore too low for them to spend much of their precious time and thoughts about: Its their pri­vilege to have inlarged ex­perience in the great things [Page 195] of God, things that are last­ing and durable to eternity; and as godly persons may have experience in some things of the world, so car­nal persons may have experi­ence of the dealings of God in some things, as to ma­ny outward blessings and deliverances by a common hand of providence, in which they do many times so bless themselves, as if they were highly in fa­vour with God, when the Lord knows it is no such thing, but it may be they have their portion in this life, and are delivered [Page 196] from a lesser, to be reserved to a greater destruction.

But as to Experience from a truesanctified knowledge, or special work of the Spi­rit of God, they are altoge­ther strangers to it, 1 Cor. 2. 14. its only the privilege of Saints to be eminent in that; and indeed its a privilege so great, that I desire for ever to bless the Lord that he hath made me, who am so unwor­thy, in any measure to par­take of it; for things meerly historical or traditional will vanish and come to nothing, and so far as we partake of truth, not onely in its princi­ples [Page 197] as to the understanding of it from Scripture rule, but also in its experience as to the effects and operations of it in our hearts, so far it will stand us instead, and so far do we attain true wisdome, and no farther; and indeed as to the effects and opera­tions of it in the heart, it is the very life of Christianity; yet as to rule for the recei­ving of any principle one word of Scripture is more worth than all our experi­ence, and as to the avoid­ing of evil its better to learn that any way, than by the experience of it, for so its the school of fools; yet wise [Page 198] men have so learned in some things; now according to my understanding, experi­ence is more than a bare knowledge, it is either a be­getter, or an effect of know­ledge, and hath alwaies re­lation to some rule, whether it be in natural or spiritual things; if in natural things, it must answer a rule of na­ture, if in spiritual, it must answer a spiritual rule, and the holy Scripture is that rule, by which all Christi­an experience must be tried, according to the Lords own appointment, Esa. 8. 20. and all must answer some rule [Page 199] therein exprest or implyed; by rule in this sense I mean the Scriptures, declaring the same thing; and as it must answer a rule in it self, so an­swerable to that knowledge and understanding which persons have in the rule, so is the measure of their experi­ence: For though some per­sons have much knowledge as to principles, and but lit­tle experience, yet none can have experience of that they do not understand, either in a principle before they had that experience, or else they have learned that principle by experience; for (as I said [Page 200] before) all experience is ei­ther an effect of knowledge, or by it we learn knowledge, otherwise it cannot be expe­rience; this I mind the ra­ther, because some persons do please themselves with a conceited experience, though ignorant in the principles of truth, when there cannot be such a thing. I must con­fess I have been grieved to hear such persons speak of their experience, when it doth appear to me, as it is said of some that would be Preachers of the Law, 1 Tim. 1. 7. they know not what they say, nor whereof they [Page 201] affirm, and these are two sorts of persons, first, such as through ignorance of the Scriptures do imagine that to be Christian experience, which doth not answer a rule of Scripture, but is con­trary thereto. 2. Such as from corrupt principles will set up their experience above or equal to the authority of Scripture, as to give a being to institutions, or to make it a rule to judge and try all things, yea the very Scrip­ture it self, when both it and they must be judged therby Rom. 2. 16. There is much corrupt experience in the world, and persons have been [Page 202] as much mistaken in their ex­perience, especially in these daies, as in any thing I know, and no marvel, when they leave the Scriptures as to rule & walk by the uncertain rule of their own experience, which many times is nothing but the vision of their own brains; yet notwithstanding the great mistakes of many through corrupt experience, yet true Christian experience is as ex­cellent as ever, and that as I said before is more than a bare knowledge, it is truth brought home to the heart with life and power, by the Spirit of God conforming the soul in all things to the will [Page 203] of God, being united to Christ by faith, and so by it we learn many things; First, by expe­rience we find the word of God daily accomplished in us, and are confirmed in our faith and hope, for experience worketh hope, Rom. 5. 4. by it we come to be acquainted with our own hearts, and are not so easily deceived by them; by experience we learn how to use our spiritual armor, Eph. 6. 12, 13, 14. for offence and defence against the wiles of the devil, not being igno­rant of his devises, 2 Cor. 2. 11. by it we learn wisdom as to the exercise of all spiritual [Page 204] gifts, and do know what we have received, and what we want in a measure, and what will help or hinder a graci­ous frame in us; also by it we learn wisdom as to the profiting by all conditions, and as to the answering of all relations, and in all these persons do many times do that for want of experience, which after they have more, they are ashamed of what they have done; and accor­ding to that measure of it which through grace I have attain'd, I have often thought that a large experienced Christian doth as far excell [Page 205] and differ from such as have but little experience, as a man differs from a child, and may say as Iob did, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eyes see thee, Job 42. 5. and because experience is a thing so excellent, every one would be eminent in it, or at least they would be thought to be so, when the truth is there are but few that do take a right course to at­tain it. Now for the way and means by which it is attain­ed, I shall give my thoughts, 1. I conceive its the fruit of much Christian labour after long continuance in the truth and being [...] [Page 206] various conditions. But 2. and chiefly I apprehend it is at­tained by serious observation and meditation: for though persons may have much knowledge as to the princi­ples of truth, and may conti­nue long in the profession of it, and may be exercised un­der many changes, yet if they are not serious in their obser­vations, but things come and go with them, and they not regard it, they will never at­tain to much experience; whereas it may be some that are more serious and observ­ing, that have not bin so long in the truth, or so exercised, [...] have more [...] [Page 207] than they, as some children will learn more in a moneth than others in a year, but this is not ordinary; for though persons may be long in the truth, and have but little ex­perience, yet such as are new­ly come to the faith cannot have much, though never so observing; for which cause young Christians are not to be chosen Church-officers, being subject to be soon o­vercome by temptations; al­so let young Christians espe­cially, Be swift to hear, and slow to speak, Iam. 1. 19. and be more swift to hear than to offer the sa­crifice of fools, Eccle. 5. 1. Seeing it is so that Christian [...] [Page 208] in its place is a thing so excel­lent, and that the means by which its attained is by seri­ous observation, I desire with all Saints to give up my self to a serious observation of the dealings of God with us in all conditions, that we may not receive mercies in vain, but that we may treasure them up in our Christian experience, ha­ving in our treasury things new and old, that we may be ready upon all occasions to bring it forth, Mat. 13. 52. to the glory and praise of God, & to the pro­fit & comfort of our selves and others, as its our duty so to do, till the comming of our Lord, to [...] and glory for e­ [...]

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