Billeder på siden


all the world, and endeavour that some instruction may accompany that astonishment, which from me and my house hath gone out and spread itself far and

I will not undertake to make any phyfical obfervations upon this unaccountable disease, nor to vindiate myself either from that great guilt that is charged upon me, as if I were a finner above all that dwell in this country; or from those many false and senseless aspersions, that have been caft upon my behaviour, during this visitation, much like that we read of, Mat. xxviii 13. but do freely commit myself to him that judgeth righteously, and pray with the pfalmift, Pfal. Ixix. 6. Let not them that wait on thee O Lord God of Hofts be ashamed for my fake; let not those that seek thee be confounded for my fake, O God of Israel. Neither do I purposely undertake in this preface to reconcile the providences of the most wise God to his promises, or to falve that seeming difference between the words of his mouth, and the language of his hands; between which I have only fufpected some kind of jar, but have experienced an excellent harmony.

In very faithfulness haft thou aflisted me. Whence arise all those uncharitable cenn sures, with which the afflicted soul is apt to charge both himself and his God too? Spring they not certainly from these two grand causes, viz. a misapprehension of the nature of God, and of the nature of good and evil? Let the studious and pious reader search and judge. If ever therefore you would be established in your minds in a day of affliction ; (1) labour to be rightly informed concerning the nature of God. Away with those low and gross apprehensions of God, whereby your carnal fancies do ascribe unto God such a kind of indulgence towards his children as you bear towards yours ; which indeed no way agrees to his nature. His good will towards his children is a solid, wife and holy difpofition, infinitely unlike to our humane affections. Soli Des

competit, competit, Amare: Sapere. (2) Labour to be rightly informed concerning the nature of good and evil. Judge not the goodness or evilness of things by their agreeablenefs or disagreableness to your fich, palate, or carnal intereft; but by the relation that they have to the supreme good. The greateft prosperity in the world is no further good, than as it tends to make us partakers of God; and the greatest affliction may thus be really good also. But that by the by. My design is to justify and glorify infinite wisdom, righte ousness, goodness and holiness before all men. Oh blesed God! who maketh a feeming dungeon, to be indeed a wine-celler; who bringeth his poor people into a wilderness, on fet purpofe, there to fpeak comfortably to them! Be of good cheer, Q my soul! he hath taken away nothing but what he gave; and, in lieu of it, hath given thee that which thall nevir be taken away; the first fruits of life, instead of those whom the first born of death hath devoured; but, why do I say devoured ? Doth not that truly livé at this day, which was truly lovely in those darlings ? Didst thou, O my fond heart, love beauty, sweetness, ingenuity incarnate? And canst thou not love it still in the fountain, and enjoy it in a more immediate and compendious way? Thy body indeed cannot taste fweetness in the abstract, or fee beauty except it be subjected in matter : but canst not thou, O my soul; taste the uncreated goodness and sweetness, except it be embodied, and have some material thing to commend it to thy palate ? Be ashamed that thou being a spirit as to thy conftitution, art no more spiritual in thy affections and operations: dost thou with sadness reflect

upon those fweet smiles, and that broken rhetorick with which those babes were wont to ens tertain thee? (1) Consider duly what of real contentrent thcu halt loft in lofing those. For what were those things to thy real happiness ? Thou haft loft nothing, but what it was no folid pleasure, nor true feA 3



licity to enjoy; nothing but what the most sensual and' brutish fouls do enjoy as much as thou. (2) Be alhamed rather that thou didft enjoy them in such a gross and unfpiritual manner: art thou troubled because any earthly interest is violated? Rather be ashamed that thou hadft and cherished any such interest.

But pardon me, courteous readers, this digreffive Soliloquy; and now suffer me patiently, whilft I speak something by way of admiration, something by way of observation, and something by way of exhortation,

1. Let me call upon men and angels to help me id celebrating the infinite and almighty grace and good nefs of the eternal and blessed God.

Who enabled me to abide the day of his coming, to stand when he appeared ; and made me willing to suffer him to fit as a refiner of filver in


house. Whọ carried me above all murmurings against I had almost said, all remembrance of those instru. ments that conveyed the infection to me.

Who reconciled my heart to this disease, so that it {eemed no more grievous, noisome, or scandalous than

Who subdued me to, I had almost said, brought me in love with this passage of the divine will! I can remember, (alas, that I can say little more, but that I do remember,) how my soul was overpowered, yea and almost ravished with the goodness, holiness, and perfection of the will of God: and verily judged it my happiness and perfection, as well as my duty, to comply chearfully with it, and be moulded into it.

Who gave me a most powerful and quick sense of the plague of a carnal heart, self-will, and inordinate creature-loves, convincing me that those were infinitely worse than the plague in the flesh; so that I did more pity, than I could be pitied by my ordinary visitors.


any other.

Who wonderfully preserved me from the assaults of the Devil, never let him loose so much as to try his strength upon my integrity, to drive me to defpondency, or to any uncharitable conclusions concerning my state.

Who enabled me to converse with his love and mercy in the midst of his chastening, to see his shining and smiling face through this dark cloud ; yea, kept up clear and steady persuasions in my soul, that I was beloved of him, though amicted by him!

Who knew my soul in adversity, visited me when I was fick and in prison, refreshed, strengthened, comforted

my inward man, in a marvellous manner and measure, and made me appear to myself, never less Thut

up, than when shut up! Oh, would to God I might be never worse tha when was shut up of the plague ! the not removing of that afli&tion-frame, I shall count a greater blessing, and a more proper mercy, than the removing of that afflicted state.

Who cleared up my interest in his Son, strengthened my evidences of his love, satisfied and assured my soul of its happy ftate, more than at any time, more than at all times formerly; I had clearer and furer evidences of divine grace in that patient, self-denying, self-submitting frame of spirit, than in all the duties that ever I performed. The valley of tears, brought me more fight of my God, more in fight into my felf, than ever the valley of visions, all duties and ordinances had done. When the Sun of righteousnejs arose upon my soul, and chased away all the mists and foggs of self-will, and creature loves, then also did all black and dismal fears, all gloomy doubtings, most fenfibly flee before him.

Who supplied my family from compassionate friends, with all things needful for food, phyfic, &c. The Lord return it seven fold into their bosoms.

Who maintained my health, in the midst of fickaess, in the midst of so great a death! I do not rem


A 4

member that either forrow of mind, or sickness of body, ever prevailed so much upon me, during three months feclufion, as to hinder me of my ordinary study, repait, devotions, or my neceffary attendants, upon my leveral infested rooms, and adminiftring to the necessities of my lick. These ensuing discourses were then composed; which doth at least argue, that, through grace, this mind was not altogether discomposed, nor body neither.

Who preserved me, and gave me not up to death! for I judge that I was perfonally visited with the plague, though not with the sickness.

Who hath given me a fincere and settled refolution, and vehement desire to live entirely on and to himself; which I account to be the only life of a foul, and only worthy to be called a living. Grant ine this prayer, O most blessed and gracious God, for the sake of my only and dear redeemer.

Thou O Lord God, who art witness, to all my thoughts and words, and works, knoweft that in truth and foberness, I publish these things to the world, not to advance the reputation of my own filly name, or to be admired of my fellow creatures, but for the glory of thy holy name, to beget a good liking of To gracious a'creator in all thy poor creatures, who are prejudiced against thee and thy holy service; and to strengthen the hearts of thy fervants, to a most firm and lasting adherence to thee, even in the greatest extremities; that thou mayest be admired in thy saints, and glorificd for giving such power, and grace, and comfort unto men. And, oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and his wonderful works in and to the children of men.

2. Suffer me to make a short observation of some few memorable passages out of many; pofsibly they may be for the future, though they should not be for your prefent advantage; the Lord direct you to make

a right

« ForrigeFortsæt »