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to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.-For what is our hope, our joy, or crown of rejoicing ? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming ? For ye are our glory and joy.' These, I say, with many others of a like nature, have been great Refreshments to ine.
“ I have observed, that where I have had a work to do for God, I have had first, as it were, the going of God upon my spirit, to desire I might preach there. I have also observed, that such and such souls, in particular, have been strongly set upon my heart, and I stirred up to wish for their salvation ; and that these very souls have, after this, been given in as the fruits of my ministry. I have observed, that a word cast in by the bye, hath done more execution in a sermon, than all that was spoken besides. Sometimes also, when I have thought I did no good, then I did the most of all ; and at other times, when I thought I should catch them, I have fished for nothing.
6 I have also observed, that where there has been a work to do upon sinners, there the devil hath begun to roar in the hearts and by the mouths of his servants : yea, oftentimes, when the wicked world hath raged most, there hath been souls awakened by the word.— I could instance particulars, but I forbear.
My great desire in my fulfilling my ministry was to get into the darkest places of the country, even amongst those people that were farthest off of profession; yet not because I could not endure the light, (for I feared not to show my gospel to any,) but because I found my spirit did lean most after awakening and converting work, and the word that I carried did lean itself most that way also : · Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation.' Rom. xv. 20.
" In my preaching I have really been in pain, and have, as it were, travailed to bring forth children to God; neither could I be satisfied unless some fruits did appear in my work. If I were fruitless, it mattered not who commended me: but if I were fruitful, I cared not who did condemn. I have thought of that, • Lo! children are an heritage of the Lord ; and the fruit of the womb is his reward.-As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.' Psal. cxxvii. 3.
“It pleased me nothing to see people drink in opinions, if
they seemed ignorant of Jesus Christ, and the worth of their own salvation, sound conviction for sin, especially unbelief, and an heart set on fire to be saved by Christ, with strong breathings after a truly sanctified soul. That it was, that delighted me; those were the souls I counted blessed.
“ But in this work, as in all other, I had my temptations attending me, and that of divers kinds ; as sometimes I should be assaulted with great discouragement therein, fearing that I should not be able to speak a word at all to edification ; nay, that I should not be able to speak sense unto the people ; at which times I should have such a strange faintness and strengthlessness seize upon my body, that my legs have scarce been able to carry me to the place of exercise.
“ Sometimes again when I have been preaching, I have been violently assaulted with thoughts of blasphemy, and strongly tempted to speak the words of my mouth before the congregation. I have also at some times, even when I have begun to speak the word with much clearness, evidence, and liberty of speech, yet been, before the ending of that opportunity, so blinded and so estranged from the
things I have been speaking, and have been also so straightened in my speech, as to utterance before the people, that I have been as if I had not known or remembered what I have been about; or as if my head had been in a bag all the time of my exercise.
“ Again, when as sometimes I have been about to preach upon some smart and searching portion of the word, I have found the tempter suggest, • What! will you preach this! This condemns yourself; of this your own soul is guilty ; wherefore preach not of this at all ; or if you do, yet so mince it, as to make way for your own escape ; lest instead of awakening others, you lay that guilt upon your own soul, that you will never get from under.'
“ But I thank the Lord, I have been kept from consenting to these so horrid suggestions, anđ have rather, as Samson, bowed myself with all my might, to condemn sin and transgression, wherever I found it; yea, though therein also, I did bring guilt upon my own conscience : • Let me die (thought I) with the Philistines,' rather than deał corruptly with the blessed word of God. • Thou that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?' It is far better then to judge thyself even by preaching plainly unto others, than thou, to save thyself, imprison the truth in unrighteousness. Blessed be God for his help also, in this.
“I have also, while found in this blessed work of Christ: been often tempted to pride and liftings up of heart.” (In Mr. Toplady's works, vol. iv. p. 11, there is this anecdote : “ Mr. John Bunyan having preached one day with peculiar warmth and enlargement, some of his friends, after service was over, took him by the hand, and could not help observing what a sweet sermon he had delivered.
• Ay,' said the good man, you need not remind me of that, for the devil told me of it before I was out of the pulpit.'”) “I dare not say, I have not been affected with this; yet truly the Lord, of his precious mercy, hath so carried it towards me, that for the most part I have had but small joy to give way to such a thing. For it hath been my every day's portion to be let into the evil of my own heart, and still made to see such a multitude of corruptions and infirmities therein, that it hath caused hanging down of the head under all my gifts and attainments. I have felt this thorn in the flesh : • And lest I should be exalted above measure, through the abundance of the revelation, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from me.' These verses were the very mercy of God to me.
“ I have also had, together with this, some notable place or other of the word presented before me, which word hath contained in it some sharp and piercing sentence concerning the perishing of the soul, notwithstanding gifts and parts. As for instance, that hath been of great use to me : . Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.' 1 Cor. xiii. 1, 2.
“ A tinkling cymbal is an instrument of music, with which a skilful player can make such melodious and heart-inflaming music, that all who hear him play can scarcely hold from dancing ; and yet behold the cymbal hath not life, neither comes the music from it, but because of the art of him that plays therewith; so then the instrument at last may come to naught and perish, though in times past such music hath been made upon it.
“ Just thus, I saw it was, and will be, with them that have gifts, but want saving grace; they are in the hand of Christ, as the cymbal in the hand of David ; and David could with the cymbal make that mirth in the service of God, as to elevate the hearts of the worshippers, so Christ can use these gifted men, as with them to affect the souls of his people in his church; yet when he hath done all, hang them by, as lifeless, though sounding cymbals.
“ This consideration, therefore, together with some others, were for the most part, as a maul on the head of pride, and the desire of vain-glory; What, thought I, shall I be proud because I am a sounding brass ? Is it so much to be a fiddle! Hath not the least creature that hath life, more of God in it than these? Besides, I knew it was love should never die, but those must cease and vanish : so I concluded, a little grace, a little love, a little of the true fear of God, is better than all the gifts. Yea, and I am fully convinced of it, that it is possible for souls that can scarce give a man an answer, but with great confusion as to method; I say, it is possible for them to have a thousand times more grace, and so to be more in the love and favour of the Lord, than some who by the virtue of the gift of knowledge, can deliver themselves like angels.
“ Thus therefore I came to perceive, that though gifts in themselves were good, to the thing for which they are designed, to wit, the edification of others, yet empty, and without power to save the soul of him that hath them, if they be alone. Neither are they, as so, any sign of a man's state to be happy, being only a dispensation of God to some, of whose improve. ment, or non-improvement, they must, when a little time more is over, give an account to Him that is ready to judge quick and the dead.
“ This showed me too, that gifts being alone, were danger. ous, not in themselves, but because of those evils that attend them that have them, to wit, pride, desire of vain-glory, selfconceit, &c. all which were easily blown up at the applause and commendation of every unadvised Christian, to the endan. gering of a poor creature to fall into the condemnation of the devil.
“I saw therefore that he that hath gifts, had need to be let into a sight of the nature of them, to wit, that they come short of making of him to be in a truly saved condition, lest he rest in them, and so fall short of the grace of God.
“ He hath cause also to walk humbly with God, and be little in his own eyes, and to remember withal, that his gifts are not his own, but the church's ; and that by them he is made a
servant to the church ; and he must give at last an account of his stewardship unto the Lord Jesus, and to give a good account will be a blessed thing.
“Let all men therefore prize a little, with the fear of the Lord (gifts indeed are desirable,) but yet great grace and small gifts are better than great gifts and no grace. It doth not say, the Lord gives gifts and glory, but the Lord gives grace and glory ; and blessed is such an one, to whom the Lord gives grace, true grace ; for that is a certain forerunner of glory.
“But when Satan perceived that his thus tempting and assaulting of me, would not answer his design; to wit, to overthrow the ministry, and make it ineffectual, as to the ends thereof; then he tried another way, which was, to stir up the minds of the ignorant and malicious to load me with slanders and reproaches. Now therefore I may say, that what the devil could devise, and his instruments invent, was whirled up and down the country against me, thinking as I said, that by that means they should make niy ministry to be abandoned.
“ It began therefore to be rumoured up and down among the people, that I was a witch, a jesuit, a highwayman, and the like. 6 To all which, I shall only say,
God knows that I am inno. cent. But as for mine accusers, let them provide themselves to meet me before the tribunal of the Son of God, there to answer for all these things (with all the rest of their iniquities) unless God shall give them repentance for them, for the which I pray with all my heart.
“ But that which was reported with the boldest confidence, was, that I had my misses, my whores, my bastards; yea, two wives at once, and the like. Now these slanders (with the others,) I glory in, because but slanders, foolish or knavish lies, and falsehoods cast upon me by the devil and his seed ; and should I not be dealt with thus wickedly by the world, I should want one sign of a saint, and a child of God. Blessed are you,' said the Lord Jesus, when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil of you falsely for my sake ; rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.' Matt. v. 11.
“ These things therefore, upon mine own account, trouble me not; no, though they were twenty times more than they are, I have a good conscience ; and whereas they speak evil