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you don't understand it. So he laboured to put a better face on it; but it was still one of the lean kine. He laboured with more fervency to bring my soul from Christ than ever I did to bring a soul to him; I speak this to my shame. Finding my head like a gentleman's garret, filled with this lumber, I fled out of the house, both wounded and naked. I went that night to hear the word preached; but there was nothing for me: freewill and free-grace were striving perpetually in my mind for a month or more; I had nothing in me but this pro and con. The thoughts of falling from the blessed state in which I had long been, and being damned after all; knowing what a dreadful place hell was, by the dreadful pains which I had felt of it; and knowing what a powerful adversary Satan is; “ Alas!' said I, • if final apostacy from a state of grace be true, and I only stand in my own strength, fall I must; and then there is no more sacrifice for sin, but a fearful looking for of judgment,' Heb. x. 27.
These things filled my soul with slavish fear, threw me into bondage again, set me to striving in my own strength, and my heart to fretting against the Lord. My evil tempers often hurried me into sin, which stopped the mouth of prayer and praise; nor could I read, meditate, or stay my thoughts on any thing. Thus was my mind entangled in the Arminian labyrinth, till the billows of horror rolled over my soul, and I sunk in deep waters, where there was no standing, so that the floods of
despair overflowed me. This is the cause why I am so severe against that doctrine; but none but a burnt child dreads that fire.
Being one day busy in hoeing a sand-walk at Ewell in Surry, mourning under my present distress of mind, and the perilous state I appeared to be in, and reasoning that it was God's grace alone which begun, and would surely carry on this work; the answer in my mind was, No; I had improved the day of grace myself, and falling away was a truth, for I was already fallen. This cut me so deep, that I cursed the day I ever saw that wretch. Oh!' said I, “if Christ will but shew me that the whole work was of him, and give me security for the future, I would never grudge to serve him day or night. I would not care how hard I worked, or how much I suffered, if an eternal portion of his love and presence was but secured to
In answer to this, a voice from heaven sounded in my heart with these words: 'Don't
know that the scripture says, “No man can come to me except the Father draw him?" I answered in
anger, with a loud voice, 'I know it says so.' The answer came again, and said, 'If you can find a a passage
in scripture where it is said that man has a power to come, then you may prove the Bible lies.' This taught me that God holds his power to command, though man has lost his power to obey. And, as there are many who boast of will and power, God has an undeniable right to set them this impossible
task, namely, to put away their evil, make themselves a new heart, learn to do well, make themselves clean, &c. and, as a just God, damn them for not performing that task which they boast of having power to do. And, as for the elect, I saw they were brought under the terrors of the law, and there set to work in their own strength, to convince them of their inability to create in themselves a new heart and a new spirit; and, by spending their strength with nitre and much soap, Jer. ii. 22; and finding it nothing but washing the Ethiopian white, Jer. xiii, 23; and that their iniquities are still marked before God, Jer. ii, 22; they fly for refuge to sovereign mercy in Christ, having spent all their living, and getting only worse instead of better; then Christ gives them a new heart, a new spirit, makes them clean, causes them to walk in his statutes, and promises that they never shall depart from him, Ezek, xxxvi. 27.
This I found was the privilege of a son, the other is the task of a servant: and the son is to abide in the house for ever, John viii. 35, but the servant is to be cast out of doors, Gal. iv. 30. And, although a gift of speech to preach or pray, or a legal awakening, may be given to a servant in this life, yet they are all to be taken away again from him, but not from the son; he is to lose nothing of his inheritance for ever, Ezek. xlvi. 16, 17. These things made the scale of Arminianism move up, and soon I saw it kick the beam; for poor sinners in that scale are lighter than vanity. But eternal elec
tion, and final perseverance, came down full weight, and I soon felt myself in that scale. This brought me out of the free-will fog, and truth shone in my heart like a comet. And he that cannot reconcile these things, has not lost his vail; and he that perverts them with open eyes is worse than a devil; for he is a rebel against God, and deceives the souls of others.
From that moment I waged war against freewill; and, if God spares my
life a hundred
years longer, I hope he will employ me in this battle, and let me die in this fight; and I am fully persuaded I shall never doubt of its being the battle of the Lord. Soon after, this champion (whose name was Hackston) attacked me again, and brought many passages to my mind, which I had not considered: yet God gave me understanding in them while he was bringing them forth, and enabled me to wrench the sword out of his hand, turn its edge against him, cut his ears, and make his countenance fall. And I lived to see his fancied joy wither; for I fear he was but a son of man, because he seemed to drop into the world again, and under every sermon he generally slept till it was over. Alas! if the grace of God does not hold us up in our profession, I am sure free-will must give way.
We had a parson in the church who was seldom sober one day in the week; but I never heard him say any thing against this minister: yet, if he went to hear an honest; sound Calvinist, he generally wrangled against him to those in company all the
way home; so it appeared not to be sin which he hated, but the truth of God. I have often been enabled to stop the mouth of these pretenders to good works in point of merit, by setting my works against theirs, and appealing to their own consciences for a testimony, as they lived close by me. I told them they promised to go, but went not. I said I would not go, but God made me go. I worked hard, yet felt myself unprofitable. They did nothing but cavil, and yet boasted of merit. And I haye sometimes told them that my works would weigh down the works of fifty such trunkmakers. Though we dare not boast before God, yet we are not to debase ourselves before hypocrites. “ A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain and a corrupt spring, Prov, xxv. 26.
When they have been contending with me for final apostasy from grace, as they call it, I have told them, if they believed that they could finally fall and be damned, they might fall. Their faith was not the gift of God, nor the faith of God's elect. According to their faith (or rather their fancy) be it unto them. I believed I should never finally fall, and according to my faith it would be unto me, Matt. ix. 29. God is not bound to keep them on in his strength, who reject his omnipotent arm. I found I could not drag them out of their pit, and why should they want to pull us down from our rock? They have been forced often to confess to me they were in bondage: and I don't