Obrazy na stronie

of body, and often subject to melancholy, and at times almost overborne with it, having been so even from early youth. But strength of grace and divine light has of a long time wholly conquered these disadvantages, and carried the mind, in a constant manner, quite above all such effects. Since that resignation spoken of before, made near three years ago, every thing of that nature seems to be overcome and crushed by the power of faith and trust in God, and resignation to him; the person has remained in a constant uninterrupted rest, humble joy in God, and assurance of his favour, without one hour's melancholy or darkness, from that day to this ; vapours have had great effects on the body, such as they used to have before, but the soul has been always out of their reach. And this steadfastness and constancy has remained through great outward changes and trials; such as times of the most extreme pain, and apparent hazard of immediate death.

These transporting views and rapturous affections are not attended with any enthusiastic disposition to follow impulses, or any supposed prophetical revelations; nor have they been observed to be atiended with any appearance of spiritual pride, but very much of a contrary disposition, an increase of humility and meekness, and a disposition in honour to prefer others. And it is worthy to be remarked, that when these discoveries and holy affections were evidently at the greatest heightwhich began early in the morning of the holy sabbath, and lasted for days together, melting all down in the deepest humility and poverty of spirit, reverence and resignation, and the sweetest meekness and universal benevolence-these two things were felt in a remarkable manner, viz. First, a peculiar aversion to judging other professing Christians of good standing in the visible church, with respect to their conversion or degrees of grace; or at all intermeddling with that matter, so much as to determine against and condemn others in the thoughts of the heart. Such want of candour appeared hateful, as not agreeing with that lamb-like humility, meekness, gentleness, and charity, which the soul then, above other times, saw to be beautiful. The disposition then felt was on the contrary, to prefer others to self, and to hope that they saw more of God and loved him better; though before, under smaller discoveries, and feebler exercises of divine affection, there had been a disposition to censure and condemn others. Secondly, another thing that was felt at that time, was a very great sense of the importance of moral social duties, and how great a part of religion lay in them. There was such a new sense and conviction of this, beyond what had been before, that it seemed to be as it were a clear discovery then made to the soul. But, in general, there has been a very great increase VOL. 11.


of a sense of these two things, as divine views and divine love have increased.

The things already mentioned have been attended also with the following things, viz. an extraordinary sense of the awful majesty, greatness and holiness of God, so as sometimes to overwhelm soul and body; a sense of the piercing all-seeing eye of God, so as sometimes to take away the bodily strength; and an extraordinary view of the infinite terribleness of the wrath of God; together with a sense of the ineffable misery of sinners who are exposed to this wrath. Sometimes the exceeding pollution of the person's own heart, as a sink of all manner of abomination, and the dreadfulness of an eternal hell of God's wrath, opened to view both together. There was a clear view of a desert of that misery, and that by the pollution of the best duties ; vea, only by the irreverence, and want of humility that attended once speaking of the holy name of God, when done in the best manner that ever it was done. The strength of the body was very often taken away with a deep mourning for sin, as committed against so holy and good a God; sometimes with an affecting sense of actual sin, sometimes especially indwelling sin, and sometimes the consideration of the sin of the heart, as appearing in a particular thing, as, for instance, in that there was no greater forwardness and readiness to self-denial for God and Christ, who had so denied himself for us. Yea, sometimes the consideration of sin that was only in speaking one word concerning the infinitely great and holy God, has been so affecting as to overcome the strength of nature. There has been a very great sense of the certain truth of the great things revealed in the gospel ; an overwhelming sense of the glory of the work of redemption, and the way of salvation by Jesus Christ; of the glorious harmony of the divine attributes appearing therein, as that wherein mercy and truth are met together, and righteousness and peace have kissed each other. A sight of the fulness and glorious sufficiency of Christ has been so affecting as to overcome the body. A constant immoveable trust in God through Christ, with a great sense of his strength and faithfulness, the sureness of his covenant, and the immutability of his promises, made the everlasting mountains and perpetual hills to appear as mere shadows to these things.

Sometimes the sufficiency and faithfulness of God, as the covenant God of his people, appeared in these words, I AM THAT I AM, in so affecting a manner as to overcome the body. A sense of the glorious, unsearchable, unerring wisdom of God in his works, both of creation and providence, was such as to swallow up the soul, and overcome the strength of the body. There was a sweet rejoicing of soul at the thoughts of God being infinitely and unchangeably happy, and an exulting gladness of heart that God is self-sufficient, and infin tely above all dependence, and reigns over all, and does his will with absolute and uncontrollable power and sovereignty. A sense of the glory of the Holy Spirit, as the great comforter, was such as to overwhelm both soul and body; only mentioning the word the COMFORTER, has immediately taken away all strength; that word, as the person expressed it, seemed great enough to fill heaven and earth. There was a most vehement and passionate desire of the honour and glory of God's name; a sensible, clear, and constant preference of it, not only to the person's own temporal interest, but to his spiritual comfort in this world. There was a willingness to suffer the hidings of God's face, and to live and die in darkness and horror, if God's honour should require it, and to have no other reward for it but that God's name should be glorified, although so much of the sweetness of the light of God's countenance had been experienced. A great lamenting of ingratitude and the defect of love to God, took away bodily strength; and there were very often vehement longings and faintings after more love to Christ, and greater conformity to him; especially longing after these two things, viz. to be more perfect in humility and adoration. The flesh and heart seem often to cry out for lying low before God, and adoring him with greater love and humility. The thoughts of the perfect humility with which the saints in heaven worship God, and fall down before his throne, have often overcome the body, and set it into a great agitation. The person felt a great delight in singing praises to God, and Jesus Christ, and longing that this present life may be, as it were, one continued song of praise to God. There was a longing, as the person expressed it

, to sit and sing this life away; and an overcoming pleasure in the thoughts of spending an eternity in that exercise. Together with living by faith to a great degree, there was a constant and extraordinary distrust of our own strength and wisdom; a great dependence on God for his help in order to the performance of any thing to God's acceptance, and being restrained from the most horrid sins.

A sense of the black ingratitude of true saints, as to coldness and deadness in religion, and their setting their hearts on the things of this world, has overcome the bodily frame. There was an experience of great longing that all the children of God might be lively in religion, fervent in their love, and active in the service of God; and, when there have been appearances of it in others, rejoicing so in beholding the pleasant sight, that the joy of soul has been too great for the body.— The person took pleasure in the thoughts of watching and striving against sin, fighting through the way to heaven, and filling up this life with hard labour, and bearing the cross for Christ, as an opportunity to give God honour; not desiring to rest from labours till arrived in heaven, but abhorring the thoughts of it, and seeming astonished that God's own should be backward to strive and deny themselves for God. There were earnest longings that all God's people might be clothed with humility and meekness like the Lamb of God, and feel nothing in ti eir hearts but love and compassion to all mankind; and grea: grief when any thing to the contrary appeared in any of the children of God, as bitterness, fierceness of zeal, censoriousness, or reflecting uncharitably on others, or disputing with any appearance of heat of spirit; a deep concern for the good of others' souls; a melting compassion to those that looked on themselves as in a state of nature, and to saints under darkness, so as to cause the body to faint. There was found an universal benevolence to mankind, with a longing, as it were, to embrace the whole world in the arms of pity and love; and ideas of suffering from enemies the utmost conceivable rage and cruelty, with a disposition felt to fervent love and pity in such a case, so far as it could be realized in thought. Sometimes a disposition was felt to a life given up to mourning alone in a wilderness over a lost and miserable world; compassion towards them being often to that degree, that would allow of no support or rest, but in going to God, and pouring out the soul in prayer for them. Earnest desires were felt that the work of God, now in the land, may be carried on, and that with greater purity, and freedom from all bitter zeal, censoriousness, spiritual pride, hot disputes, &c. and a vehement and constant desire for the setting up of Christ's kingdom through the earth, as a kingdom of holiness, purity, love, peace, and happiness to mankind.

The soul often entertained, with unspeakable delight, the thoughts of heaven, as a world of love; where love shall be the saint's eternal food, where they shall dwell in the light, and swim in an ocean of love, and where the very air and breath will be nothing but love; love to the people of God, or God's true saints, as having the image of Christ, and as those who will in a very little time shine in his perfect image. The strength was very often taken away with longings that others might love God more, and serve God better, and have more of bis comfortable presence, than the person that was the subject of these longings; desiring to follow the whole world to heaven, or that every one should go before, and be higher in grace and happiness, not by this person's diminution, but by others' increase. This experience included a delight in conversing on religious subjects, and in seeing Christians together, talking of the most spiritual and heavenly things in religion, in a lively and feeling manner ; and very frequently the person was overcome with the pleasure of such conversation. A great sense was often expressed, of the importance of the duty of charity to the poor, and how much the generality of Christians come short in the practice of it. There was also a great sense of the need ministers have of much of the Spirit of God, at this day especially; and there were most earnest longings and wrestlings with God for them, so as to take away the bodily strength. It also included the greatest, fullest, longest continued, and most constant assurance of the favour of God, and of a title to future glory, that ever I saw any appearance of in any person, enjoying, especially of late, (to use the person's own expression,) the riches of full assurance. Formerly there was a longing to die with something of impatience; but lately, since that resignation forementioned, about three years ago, an uninterrupted entire resignation to God, with respect to life or death, sickness or health, ease or pain, which has remained unchanged and unshaken, when actually under extreme and violent pains, and in times of threatenings of inimediate death. But notwithstanding this patience and submission, the thoughts of death and the day of judgment are always exceeding sweet to the soul. This resignation is also attended with a constant resignation of the lives of dearest earthly friends, and sometimes when some of their lives have been imminently threatened ; the person often expressing the sweetness of the liberty of having wholly left the world, and renounced all for God, and having nothing but God, in whom is an infinite fulness. These things have been attended with a constant sweet peace and .calm, and serenity of soul, without any cloud to interrupt it; a continual rejoicing in all the works of God's hands, the works of nature, and God's daily works of providence, all appearing with a sweet smile upon them; a wonderful access to God by prayer, as it were seeing him and immediately conversing with him, as much oftentimes (to use the person's own expressions) as if Christ were here on earth, sitting on a visible throne, to be approached to and conversed with.

There have been frequent, plain, sensible, and immediate answers of prayer, all tears wiped away, all former troubles and sorrows of life forgotten, and all sorrow and sighing fled away-excepting grief for past sins, and for remaining corruption, and that Christ is loved no more, and that God is no more honoured in the world; and a compassionate grief towards fellow-creatures--a daily sensible doing and suffering every thing for God, for a long time past, eating, working, sleeping, and bearing pain and trouble for God, and doing all as the service of love, with a continual uninterrupted cheer

« PoprzedniaDalej »