« PoprzedniaDalej »
I wrought at the trade of duty, the further I found myself from peace: which did cause me to conclude that my case was certainly desperate, and that it was peculiarly my own; and that none that belonged to God was ever in such a condition as I found myself to be in.
I then renewed my old practice of going to minifters, acquainting them with the deplorable and wretched state and condition I was in; and earnestly begged their advice and council, what one in my fad circumstances had best to do, in order, if it were possible, to escape eternal damnation. Oh! that killing word, damnation! whenever I heard, read, or thought of it, how did it rack and torment my spirit ! as fearing it would be my portion from God for ever.
As the principle from which I acted, in order to healing and cure, was, do and live; fo these spiritual physicians to whom I addressed myself for counsel and comfort in this despair of soul, being as ignorant in the mystery of the new birth as ever was Nicodemus, (John iii. 4.) they put me on doing those duties in and about which I had laboured before, even to weariness. The names of those dignitaries of the church to whom I applied myfelf, together what their sayings were, are too tedious to relate; and therefore I here pass them by: only I think fit to acquaint the reader with the great and fuperlative ingenuity and dexterous fkilfulness in healing a fin-fick soul which one of
them, above all the rest, had attained to, to his everlasting fame be it spoken. The thing is thus:
After I had acquainted the Bishop, for of no lower a degree was he, with the fad and lamentable condition my soul was in, but he forthwith exhorts me to get a book stiled The Whole Duty of Man, and when I had got it, I should come to him for further instructions. The book I forthwith procured, and to his Lord Bishop I repaired; who, finding that I had got the book, takes it out of my hand, and turning to a prayer appointed for one of the nights in the week, with great earnestness charged me that when I was ready to go to bed that I should be sure to kneel down by my bedside, and say that prayer: the which was done according to his Lordship's directions : but to how great purpose I leave the judicious and experienced Christian to judge.
Having thus applied myself to feven or eight of the ableft and most famed of the fathers and dignitaries of the church of England then in Dublin, and finding, by woful and fad experience, how little they understood my case, and how vastly short they proved in helping me in my extremity, I concluded my case to be altogether desperate and hopeless. : It is not to be told by tongue or pen what foul conflicts and agonies accompanied me wherever I went, and whatever I fet about; insomuch that
they became frequent and familiar to me in the very night-visions. The devil, hell, damnation, with the manner how the wicked are handled in hell, were things very often presented to my fancy, in those short and tormenting numbers whereinto I fell. Yea, I have sometimes dreamed that I have seen and felt myself in hell among the damned, tumbling and sinking down deeper and deeper, feeling no bottom; which hath occasioned me often to think of Job's case, of which he bitterly complains: When I say my bed shall comfort me, my couch fall ease my complaint, then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions. Job
vii. 13, 14.
As it was with Job so it was with me; when I had been even-spent with the conflicts and temptations of the day, I thought sometimes, and hoped at least, that my bed and seep would something ease and lefsen my pain and inward horror of mind: but, alas ! I was never wearier of the fatigue of the day than I was of the restless tossings of the night! and that because of those dreams and visions which did, as it were, realize the things themselves to my mind.
mind. The confternation into which those soul-afflicting visions did put me, did often start!e me out of my neep, and caused in me restless longings for daylight; and that because I could not employ my thoughts about any thing but what had a tendency to augment my despair and misery. My thoughts running out and fixing upon the fins
of my youth, thinking how many and black they were; calling to mind the advances I had formerly made in the way of strict and zealous religion; and what methods and ways I had used to get healing and comfort, and all in vain and to no purpose; and that because, as I concluded, God had given me up to be a prey to the enemy. Sometimes in the night, when I could not neep, I heard dogs howl and cry piteously in the cold weather: this, I apprehended, was a lively representing to the ear the shrieks and roarings of the damned in hell. Thus are they in those eternal Aames; and so shall I ere long. Oh! that I could but see one glimpfe of the morning light! but, woe is me, deserted and forfaken of God, I shall be with the damned in that place of torment before morning! I shall never see light! Well, when, contrary to my foolish and wicked thoughts and expectations, I had lived to see the morning light, I would then begin to reason and query with myself, what I had so earnestly desired the day for? My day of grace is certainly past and gone: there is no mercy in store for such a one as I am. All the helps and means of grace which have had a blessing attending them for special good to others, are attended with a curse to me: I am a reprobate. In vain it is to pray any more, or spend any more time in the duties of religion: I have had fad experience of that.
Under this weight would I lie in my bed, concluding it altogether in vain to arise to engage in
any duty. This temptation so far prevailed that I did, for a time, refrain prayer, and neglect other duties of religion. From my concluding that I belonged not to God, I found myself like a dead log, as if I had neither life nor foul left in me. I expected, certainly, every hour, nay each minute, nay, every breath I fetched, to be hurried away into the place and company of the damned; which caused in me such amazement and unusual horror, that I would creep, like a condemned malefactor, into the chimney-corner among the company: there resolving to stay while any staid there, on purpose to avoid and shun those damned spirits whom I expected every twinkling of an eye to see.
Among my fad and despairing thoughts con. cerning the ineffectualness of all means and duties to do me good, there did come into my thoughts a passage which I had read in fome author whose name I have forgot : it was this--that there are different degrees of torment among the damned in hell. This thing I fixed my thoughts on so long, till I did hence infer and conclude, that seeing there are different degrees of torment among the damned in hell, and that the damned exceed each other in the degrees of fin, must necessarily be the ground and foundation of such a difference. I concluded that the less sin I committed, the less would be
my torment in hell. Now every omission of duty, think I, as well as doing what is positively forbidden in the moral law, is a sin against God; and there