A TREATISE

ON COMFORTING

AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES:

WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1620,

BY

ROBERT BOLTON, B. D.

MINISTER OF BROUGHTON IN NORTHAMPTONSHIRE;

WITH

AN INTRODUCTION AND MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR,

BY

THE REV. J. F. DENHAM.

LONDON:
PRINTED FOR THOMAS TEGG AND SON,
73, CHEAPSIDE;
R. GRIFFIN AND CO. GLASGOW; AND TEGG, WISE, AND CO.
DUBLIN.

Contents

e 18. Chap. 18. The last help for the Curing of the former Malady.

posted 4 Mar 2014, 06:28 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 4 Mar 2014, 06:29 ]

CHAP. 18.

The last help for the Curing of the former Malady.


7. THINK it not strange that thou art fallen into this kind of spiritual affliction, as though some strange thing, or that which doth not or may not befall the dearest servants of God, had happened unto thee; for herein thou becomest conformable to as holy men as ever the world had; Job, David, Heman, Luther, &c.; nay, to the Son of God himself, from whose example and precedency let the Christian, even in the darkest horror of a spiritual desertion, when he is afraid lest God hath forsaken him, fetch abundance of comfort and support out of such considerations as these: —

(1.) Christ himself was in the same case. Besides a numberless variety of most barbarous cruelties inflicted upon his blessed body by the merciless and implacable malice of the Jews, and by consequent sympathy upon his glorious soul; he suffered also in soul immediately, intolerable, and (save by himself) unconquerable torments and pain. He grasped with the fiercest wrath of his Father for our sins, and sweat blood under the sense of his angry countenance. Nay, this cross upon his soul, infinitely more weighty than that which he carried upon his shoulders towards Calvary, did not only cause streams of great bloody drops to fall down to the ground; but also pressed from him that heavy groan, Mat. xxvi, 38, “My soul is [[368]] exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; “and that last rueful bitter cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matt. xxvii, 46. If Christ Jesus himself then, blessed for ever, the “Son of the Father's love,” the Prince of Glory; nay, the glory of heaven and earth, the brightness of everlasting light, &c. in whom he professeth himself to be well-pleased, and for whose sake only he loves all the sons of men which shall be saved, was thus plunged into a matchless depth of unknown sorrows and most grievous desertion, let no Christian cry out in the like spiritual desolation (but ever immeasurably short of his) and in his fear of being forsaken, that his case is singular, desperate, irrecoverable. For the only, dear, innocent Son of God was far worse in this respect, and in greater extremity than he is, can, or ever shall be.

(2.) Amongst other ends for which the Lord Jesus drank so deep, and the very dregs of that bitter cup of his dearest Father's heaviest indignation, this was one: that by a particular and personal passing through that infinite sea, those extremest dreadful horrors of Divine wrath for our sins, which we all most justly deserved, and would have caused any mere creature to have sunk down under it into the bottom of hell, and by an experimental fear and feeling of that bitter and bloody agony, which melted, as it were, his blessed soul into that mournful cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” — the comfortable influence of the Deity being for the time in some sort restrained and retired from the human nature, that it might be capable and sensible of that anger and anguish, which would have holden both men and angels, and all- created natures, under everlasting calamity and woe; —I say, that by his own sense and experience of such painful passages, he might learn and know, with a more fellow-feeling and pitiful heart to commiserate his poor afflicted ones in their spiritual desertions, and with a softer and more compassionate hand to bind up their bleeding souls with his sweetest balm of tender-heartedness and love, when in such horrible depths they shall thirst and long, and gasp for drops of mercy and his Father's pleased face: “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. ii, 18). A woman who hash herself with extraordinary torture endured the exquisite pains of child-birth, is wont to be a great deal more tenderly and mercifully affected to another in like case, than she that never tried what it is to be terrified with the suddenness, unavoidableness, and terrible pangs of a woman's travail; and is more skilful, ready, and forward to relieve in such [[369]] distress. And so also all others, who have been most afflicted either with outward troubles or inward terrors, or both, are ever most fit and feeling to speak unto the heart, to put to their helping hand, and make much of comfortless and miserable men, troubled and tempted as they have been. And such was the case of our blessed Saviour in his sufferings for our sakes. Ile was exercised all his life long with variety and extremity of cruelties, indignities, and all manner of vexations beyond measure, grievous, bitter, and intolerable. He drank full deep of the world's disgrace; the devil's malice; the rage of great ones; the contempt and contumelies of the vilest; the scornful insultings of his enemies; sorest sufferings from all things in heaven, earth, and hell; of those pinching passions, hunger, thirst, weariness; of bodily tortures, hideous temptations, agonies of spirit, even of the full cup of his Father's fiery wrath, and horrors of soul for our sins to the very last drop, which went as far beyond his other outward extremities, as the soul goes beyond the body, or Cod's utmost anger the malice of men; whereby he is now blessedly fitted and enabled excellently “to succour them that are tempted.” Conscious. ness of his own case in the '' days of his flesh “is a keen incentive to his holy and heavenly soul, more sensibly and soon to take pity upon and ease the several necessities, troubles, sorrows, and soul-afflictions of all his children.

(3.) As this ever-blessed Redeemer of ours was in himself more than infinitely free, and more than far enough from all sins; so by consequence from any inherent cause of the least cross, or any shadow in the world of his dearest Father's displeased countenance. For originally he was of a most pure, harmless, and holy nature all his life long; kind, sweet, and gracious to every creature; offending none, doing good unto all; in his death incomparably patient, “brought as an innocent lamb” to that bloody slaughter; “not opening his mouth “for all those base and barbarous provocations of the cruel and merciless miscreants about him; swimming in blood, burning in zeal, wrestling in prayer even for the salvation of his enemies. So that his guiltless and unspotted soul had no need at all of any passion or expiation. All his sorrows and sufferings were voluntarily undergone only for our sakes and sins. Had not the precious heart's blood of the only, dear, natural, eternal Son of God, been poured out as water upon the ground, whereat the whole creation was astonished, the earth trembled and shook, her rocks slave asunder, her graves opened, the heavens withdrew their light, as not. daring to behold this sad and fearful spectacle, never had [[370]] the soul of any son or daughter of Adam been saved. It was not the glory and treasures of the whole earth, not any streaming sacrifices of purest gold, not the life of men and angels; no, not the power and prostration of all the creatures in heaven and earth, or of ten thousand worlds besides, could have prevailed, satisfied, and served the turn in this case. Either the “heir of all things” must die, or we had all been damned. Is the heart then of any mourner in Zion heavy and ready to break for sorrow because he hath lost the light of God's face, feeling of his love, and consolations of grace; so that the darkness of his spirit thereupon frights him with repossession of his pardoned sins, temptations to despair, and fears lest he be forsaken O then let him hie and have speedy recourse unto this heavenly cordial, when our Lord and our love felt the curse of our sins and his Father's hottest wrath coming upon him in the garden, without any outward violence at all, only out of the pain of his own thoughts, bled, through the flesh and skin, not some faint dew, but even solid drops of blood; and afterwards in the bitterness of his soul cried out upon the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And none of all this for himself; for no stain at all did cleave to his sacred soul; but all this (the least of which we can no more express than we could undergo) for thy sake and salvation alone, who lovest our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. And therefore ground upon it as upon the surest rock, even in the height of thy heavy-heartedness and depth of spiritual desertion, that those depths of sorrow, whereof our thoughts can find no bottom, through which he waded in his bloody sweat, cry upon the cross, and painful sufferings in soul, did most certainly free thee everlastingly from the guilt venom, and endless vengeance of all terrors of conscience, agonies of spirit, temptations to despair, and damnations of hell. The righteous Judge of all the world will never expect or exact at the hands of any of his creatures double payment, a double punishment. Our dearest Saviour bath satisfied to the utmost with his own blood the rigour and extremity of his Father's justice in thy behalf; and therefore it is utterly impossible that thou shouldst ever finally perish. Inward afflictions and troubles of mind may for a time press thee so sore, that thou mayest be ready to sink for chastisement, trial, prevention of sin, perfecting the pangs of the new birth, example to others, &c. But in despite of the united rage and policy of all infernal powers, thou shalt in due time be raised again by that victorious and triumphant hand which “bruised the serpent's head” and burst the heart of hell: [[371]] even “out of a horrible pit be set upon a rock” far above the reach of all hellish hurt or sting of horror. “In a little wrath 1 hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy upon thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer” (Isa. liv, 8).


f 19. Chap. 19. The Fifth Malady of an Afflicted Conscience. The First way of curing it, which is Speculative, and the first part of that way, which is by Consideration.

posted 4 Mar 2014, 06:25 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 4 Mar 2014, 06:26 ]

CHAP. 19.

The Fifth Malady of an Afflicted Conscience.
The First way of curing it, which is Speculative, and the first part of that way, which is by Consideration.


5. THERE is another terrible fiery dart, dipped full deep in the very rankest poison of the infernal pit, which though it be not much talked of abroad, nor taken notice of by the world, yet is secretly suggested and managed with extremest malice and cruelty in the silent bosoms of God's blessed ones. The most holy hearts are many times most haunted with This foulest fiend. Strangers to the ways of God be not much troubled in this kind, nor ordinarily vexed with such horrors. Satan, as I said before, makes as much of his in this world as he can possibly, knowing that he hath time enough, even eternity to torment them in the world to come; and therefore he is not wont to wield this terrifying weapon against them, save only at some dead lift, or upon some special advantage, as under some extraordinary misery, or in excess of melancholy, to drive them thereby to distraction or despair. Or it may be, God may suffer him to afflict thus hideously some grievous sinner whom he is about to bring in; to prepare him thereby (though the devil himself mearieth not so) for the pangs of the new birth, deeper humiliations, and more vehement desires to get under the wings of Christ from that hellish kite. Or he may sometimes mingle these horrible stings with the terrors of spiritual travail, upon purpose to hinder conversion by a diversion into bye-ways, or frightening back again to folly and former courses. But sure 1 am, the ordinary object and special aim of Satan's malice in this point are only those who have happily escaped out of his clutches already, and are fully and for ever freed from his damning fury and all deadly hurt. And I know not whether there be any of these which doth not less or more, at one time or other, suffer under this horror. And yet every one of them thinks himself singular in this suffering; and that it is not usual for God's children to have such prodigiously [[372]] foul and fearful thoughts put into their heads, which they dare not mention for their abhorred monstrousness, neither remember without trembling. Now by this dreadful engine of the devil, which I thus talk of before I tell you what it is (and no marvel, for what heart would not willingly retire, or can choose but tremble in treating upon such a theme

(1.)—I mean hideous injections, horrible thoughts, blasphemous suggestions, monstrous conceits of the most holy, pure, and ever-glorious God, his word, divine truths, the Lord Jesus blessed for ever; or some way or other about spiritual and heavenly things, framed immediately by Satan himself, and with furious violence thrown into our minds infinitely against our wills, at the grisliness whereof not only religion but also reason, nay even corrupted nature and common sense stand astonished, and shrink back at the horror, and abhor them extremely.—Some of God's dearest children and those that love him best (would you think it yet it is too true) are sometimes so pestered with their irksome intrusions, that whatsoever they speak, do, hear, read, or think upon, is wrested, perverted, and hellishly empoisoned with this temptation of blasphemy. And they are ordinarily pressed upon them with most importunity and impetuousness, when they are best busied and exercised in the holiest duties, as in prayer, hearing, or reading the word, singing of psalms, days of humiliation, &c. In the first place, for a comfortable support in such a case, peruse, ponder well upon, and apply such considerations and counsels as these: —

(1.) In this terrible temptation also thou becomest but conformable to thy Lord and Master who bought thee with his dearest blood, and to many of his blessed saints. Was there ever suggestion in conceit, or word, or any possibility of being like unto this in execrableness and horror, that the King of saints, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, should fall down and worship the prince of hell and vilest of creatures (Rev. xv, 3; Col. ii, 9.) And yet this most horrible blasphemy was injected into the most holy imagination of Jesus Christ, with which it was infinitely more impossible to be any ways tainted or stained than the fairest sun-beam with the foulest dirt. But he endured it, and conquered, and that for our sakes only and safety, even for such excellent ends as these: — First, That when we are set upon by Satan in the same kind, and so hideously assaulted, that upon the first sense we are ready to sink under the sudden fright, and to think that none in the world are so but we; yet in cool blood we may comfortably recover ourselves, and presently conceive that our [[373]] case is not singular and incompatible with a saving state; for even the Son of God himself surpassed us in the same suffering. Secondly, That he might take the venom sting and guilt from this hateful and horrible temptation for all his to the world's end. Thirdly, that having himself tasted the devil's malice herein, he might out of his own feeling and experience more tenderly take to heart our troubles and terrors that way; more mightily fortify and free our spirits against the invasion and surprise of all such prodigious injections and flashes of hell.

3. It is the concurrent judgment of learned and holy divines, that these monstrously blasphemous thoughts and satanical suggestions, resisted and not consented unto, are not our sins, but our crosses. Or suppose there would be any tainture on our parts, yet condemning them in our judgments and abhorring them with our hearts, we may be most assured that the blood of Jesus Christ is infinitely more mighty and sovereign to take away the venom and vileness of them, than the devil malicious and subtle to inject. I will imagine that some bloody popish powder traitor had pressed upon thee at that time, and suggested thus— “We are plotting, and purpose to blow up the parliament with gunpowder; to destroy at one blow the king, queen, prince, nobility, &c., and afterward to cut the throats of all the protestants in the kingdom; to root the gospel out of it for ever, exc.; and then to lay the fault upon the puritans.” These and the like were injections of much horror and monstrous nature. For thus men learned both in the mystery of Christ and depths of state spoke of that plot at that time:—”Remember but the powder-treason, the uttermost part of all villany; beyond which it is terra incognita, no man can devise what should be between hell and it[1].” “Consider but this day, the birthday, as I may term it, of bur country, in which both prince and people came, as it were, anew into the world, delivered from the fearful powder vault, the very belly of hell and confusion, as Jonah sometime did from the belly of the whale[2].” “Behold that which so many millions of eyes, since those windows were first opened in the head of man to behold the light of heaven; I say, so many millions of eyes in their several generations now sunk down into their holes, and consumed within their tabernacles, never saw; never those glorious and constant lights of the firmament, those clear and crystalline eyes of nature, which walk through the whole world and give no rest to their temples; the sun that wondereth [[374]] by day, and the moon that walketh by night, they never saw the like, &c.[3]” “It was of such prodigious monstrousness, that before now, the tongue of man never delivered, the ear of man never heard, the heart of man never conceived, nor the malice of hellish or earthly devil ever practised[4].” “It is beyond all example, whether in fact or fiction, even of the tragic poets, who did beat their wits to represent the most fearful and horrible murders[5].” “The plot whereof Livy speaks, of dispatching the whole senate of Rome in an hour; the device at Carthage to cut off a whole faction by one enterprize; the conspiring of Brutus and Cassius to kill Casar in the senate: the project of destroying in one conclave the greatest part of the cardinals; the Sicilian even-song, and the Parisian matins; nay, the wish of Nero, that Rome had but one head which he might cut off at one blow, came far short of this invention, which spared neither age, sex, nor degree[6].” Well then, if thou shouldst have approved and consented unto the suggestion of this most execrable and unheard-of villany, for which hell hath not a fit name, nor the world a sufficient punishment, thou hadst made thyself the most prodigious beast that ever breathed, an abhorred monster of mankind, and justly merited to have passed presently from most exquisite tortures here, to endless torments in another world. But now, if all the while the motion was making thy heart had risen against it with indignation and loathing, thou protestedst to the party thy abominating any thought that way from the heart root to the pit of hell; and immediately running to the king shouldst have discovered and disclaimed it as a most detestable and hellish plot; I say then, what man could have justly blamed thee, or wherein could thy conscience any way accuse thee? It is so in the present point. As that other incarnate devil in his kind, so the devil himself throws into thine imagination most hideous thoughts and horrible blasphemies, even against the dreadful Majesty of heaven, the thrice-blessed and ever-glorious Trinity, the holy humanity of the Lord Jesus, &c. To which if thou shouldst understandingly assent and approve indeed, thou mightest expect most worthily to become ten times fouler, than the ugliest fiend in hell. But since thou knowest in thine own conscience, that thy heart trembles with horror and amazedness, when they are offered, nay violently thrust into thy mind, that thou resisted and [[375]] rejetted them with all the power and prayer thou canst possibly, canst not choose but, out of a pang of infinite detestation and heart-rising, turn thus, or in the like manner, upon the tempter “Most malicious enemy to the glory of my God and good of my soul, thou troublest thyself and me in vain. I do infinitely acknowledge my blessed Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, to be one incomprehensible, glorious, wise, gracious God: heaven to be wholly filled, embroidered, impaled, with nothing but holiness and happiness: all the creatures to be good, as they issued out of the hands of God, and remembrancers to us of his power, wisdom, and goodness: God's blessed book to be all most holy, most true, a rich treasury of heavenly wisdom and sweetest knowledge, &c. And thy cursed self to be the only author and broacher of all sin, hurt, and uncomeliness; and to thee and thine alone they belong. Mingle not, then, thy malice with my lowliest, most dear, and reverend thoughts of my Father, my Saviour, my Comforter,” &c[7]. And thou art also wont presently to press in private into God's glorious presence, and prostrate thyself before his righteous throne, there to discover this hellish malice, to complain how villainously the devil deals with thee, to protest thine innocency, and infinite hatred of these horrible blasphemies, to cry heartily for pardon, patience, and power against them. And therefore it being thus with thee, thou mayest upon good ground be more than infinitely assured, that they are not imputed unto thee at all, but wholly set upon Satan's score. Hence it is, and from this ground, that I have many times told some, thus tempted, that when they have passed a duty, pressed upon violently, and pestered with the furious intrusion of such unutterably foul and fearful injections, they have in all likelihood spent that day with far less sin in their thoughts, and more freedom from guilt and provocation of divine anger, than if they had been free; because they being so earnestly and vehemently deprecated, withstood with such aversion and loathing, protested against unfeignedly, and that upon such terms that they would rather be torn in pieces with wild horses, die ten thousand deaths, do or suffer any thing, than yield the least assent or approbation thereunto; they are then, I say, not their transgressions, but afflictions; not their iniquities, but miseries; not their sins, but crosses. Nay, and further for their comfort, if they should be haunted by them until their ending hour (which God forbid, and beat back such accursed and hateful spite from every humble soul!) yet [[376]] cleaving close unto the Lord Jesus, hating all sin, and having respect to all God's commandments, they are not able at all, neither can any whit hinder, hurt, or any way prejudice their spiritual state and everlasting salvation.

3. Every servant of Christ hath his share in some affliction or other, and is ever made in some good measure conformable to him in his sufferings. Those who have the reins laid and left upon their necks without curb or correction, are bastards and not sons. They may, as the Holy Ghost tells us, prosper in this world, and pass peaceably out of it, and have no bands in their death like other men; “they may live, and become old, and be mighty in power: their seed may be established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes: their houses may be safe from fear, neither may the rod of God be upon them; their bull may gender and fail not; their cow may calve, and not cast her calf; they may send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance: they may take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ: they may spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave” (Job xxi, 7-13); at last die even like a lamb. But when all is done, they are utterly undone and everlastingly, by reason of the horror and anguish that shall come upon their souls; the affliction, the wormwood, and the gall: for horrible is the end of the unrighteous generation . they are immediately thrown down from the top of their imaginary felicity, and untroubled bed of seeming peace, to the depth of extremest misery and bottom of the burning lake. But it is not so with the servants of God. “He scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb. xii, 6). “He bath only one Son without sin, none without suffering,” saith an ancient father. But here take notice, that in this dispensation of fatherly corrections amongst his children, he ever, out of his unsearchable merciful wisdom, singles out and makes choice of those which are most suitable, and the fittest for their spiritual good. And therefore, both for the kind and particular, let us ever humbly and thankfully submit and wholly refer ourselves to the sweet and wise disposing of our most loving and dearest Father, who ever knows best what is best for us in such cases, both in regard of his service and our sufferings, his glory and our gain; what we are able to bear, how he hath furnished us beforehand with spiritual strength to go through temptations and troubles, what spiritual physic is most quick and operative, and best suited to the prevention, cure, and recovery of our soul-sicknesses, distempers, and declinations; how wisely to proportion and mercifully moderate in respect of [[377]] measure, time, and working; and when his hand is heavy upon us in one kind, tenderly to take care that we be not oppressed with other extremities also; as appears by that sweet observation of Mr. Fox, in the story of the two Glovers. “God, in his holy providence, seeing his old and trusty servant so many years with so extreme and many torments, broken and dried up, would in no wise heap too many sorrows upon one poor silly wretch, neither would commit him to the flames of fire, who had been already baked and scorched with the sharp fires 6f inward affliction, and had sustained so many burning darts and conflicts of Satan so many years. God, therefore, of his divine providence, thinking it too much that one man should be so much overcharged with so many plagues and torments, did graciously provide, that Robert his brother, being both stronger of body, and also better furnished with helps of learning to answer the adversaries, should sustain the conflict.” It may be our only wise God purposeth to exercise us extraordinarily with spiritual conflicts and troubles of conscience, and therefore doth mercifully give us more prosperity and comfort in our outward state; or, perhaps, to afflict us with variety of worldly crosses; and therefore doth sweetly and compassionately give us more peace and comfort at home in our own hearts: or, it may be, he means to make us eminent objects of disgrace, reproach, and slander in the world, and even from those who “sit in the gate,” for our forwardness and excellency of zeal; and therefore, out of a gracious tender-heartedness, gives us both more calmness in conscience and contentment in outward things; or, perhaps, he may lay all these upon us, suffer us to be tried with ill tongues, with troubles without and terrors within; but even then undoubtedly “his grace shall be sufficient for us:” so wise and so merciful is our blessed God. Only, first, let us take heed (though in our own apprehensions and misdeeming we may pretend and except never so plausibly) that we never prescribe unto him how, in what stint or measure he should afflict us. Secondly. That we never ward or put off any blow from his own heavenly hand, men, or creatures. with the wound of conscience; never decline any ill by ill means. Thirdly, That we learn and labour to profit by and make the right use of all his corrections. Fourthly. And ever magnify the glory of his mercy and wisdom in sparing us any way, his tender-hearted taking notice where we are weakest, and not so able to bear his severer visitations; but specially, that he ever pitches upon that affliction which doth our souls most good, and serves most effectually to procure, [[378]] protect, and promote the soundness, safety, and flourishing of our spiritual state. Well then, for my purpose, and thy support, since our most holy God deals thus with all that are not cast away; to wit, sorts out unto them those several crosses and corrections, which out of his unsearchable wisdom and spiritual necessity of their souls he sees most fit to keep them humble, obedient, and in awe, take thou up, and in good part, this cross of thine, while it pleaseth God to exercise thee with it as thy portion. Others, though free from this, yet have their proportion and proper potion, and that perhaps in a bitter cup and from a more smarting rod. It may be it goes well with thee in other respects[8], in which, wert thou yet crossed, the physic would not take, nor work so kindly. Our all-wise heavenly Physician knows this dreadful dart will only do it. Who knows whether, if thou wert not haunted with these foul furies, I mean furious injections of the devil's own forge, thou mightest grow worldly, lukewarm, too passionate, proud, secure or something which God would not have thee, and would be infinitely for thy hurt?



[1] Dr. White, in his Sermon at PUN Crocs.

[2] Dr. Tynley, in his Sermon at Paul's Cross.

[3] Dr. King, in his Sermon at Whitehall.

[4] Sir Edward Philips, in the proceedings against the late Traitors.

[5] Sir Edward Coke, ibid.

[6] The Earl of Northampton, ibid.

[7] These very words were forced, by fury of temptation, from one tempted in this kind.

[8] And yet I know some horribly afflicted in this kind, and yet in some respects as outwardly miserable as can be imagined; but then know, that the merciful power of God is mightily improved for extraordinary support.


f 20. Chap. 20. The Second Part of the speculative way of curing the former Malady, which is by Counsel. Two things which Men must be counselled to practise.

posted 4 Mar 2014, 06:22 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 4 Mar 2014, 06:23 ]

CHAP. 20.

The Second Part of the speculative way of curing the former Malady, which is by Counsel.
Two things which Men must be counselled to practise.


BE thou therefore patient under them, humbled by them, make a holy and profitable use of them, comfort thyself in them by these considerations commended unto thee for that purpose, and learn how to behave thyself about them by the following counsels: —

1. As at their first approach and offer thou oughtest to stir up and steel thy heart to improve the strength and stoutness of all the powers of they soul; to make a mighty and forcible resistance, lifting up at the same instant thy heart in a bitter complaint against the cruelty and malice of the adversary, a strong cry for the rebuking of him and restraint of his hellish spite, with extreme detestation of all such devilish filth, so take heed that thou never revolve in thy mind those his blasphemous temptations; but say with [[379]] Luther, “a kite or cormorant may fly over my house, but sure shall never roost or nestle there.” Or as another, “a ravenous and hateful bird may begin to build in mine arbour, I cannot hinder it; but I will never fail to pull it down as often as she begins.” The devil will inject whether thou wilt or no; but resolve to suffer them by no means to have any rest or residence in thine imagination. If thou be a minister (and the holiest men are Satan's special mark that he would gladly hit with his fiery darts), take advice which hath proved sovereign and helpful to beat back and banish these temptations of blasphemy. The mind of every man of God instructed to the kingdom of heaven is, as I suppose, still digging into the rich mines of divine truth, diving into the great mystery of Christ, ever discoursing in itself for, or doing something for the advancement of the work of the Lord, their ministerial affairs, and welfare of souls. Temporizers indeed, seldom and self-preachers, are not much troubled this way, neither take these things so to heart. They seek more to advance themselves than save souls: their chief study is, if they be not downright good-fellows, as they call them, either to grow rich, or rise, and so they are still negotiating industriously about the one, or plotting ambitiously for the other. But were they of Paul's mind, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor. ix, 16); of Chrysostom's temper, who was wont to tremble when he took into consideration those words, Heb. xiii, 17, “For they watch over your souls, as they that must give account;” of Austin's resolution for not meddling in worldly matters, wherein to deal he deemed a very tiring and tedious vexation, and was never well but when he was wading in the depths of Christian Religion, and busied about the things of God: I say, if they were thus affected, they would be such as they ought, and as 1 now suppose, to wit, have many webs, as it were, of their holy work in their heads, all at once; many ministerial tasks in agitation and on foot still. Some part of the day they would, perhaps, search and pierce into the pith and marrrow of some scripture text; at another time wrestle with the difficulties and knotty distinctions of some popish or other controversy. At another, discuss and drive unto a resolution some perplexed and intricate case of conscience, &c. Well, then, this supposed, upon the very first proposal of these monstrous and hideous thoughts, presently divert and resort to the hardest of all those irons thou hast in the fire, if I may so speak, and that which hath need of most hammering; I mean, to the most difficult and weighty points of all those several spiritual businesses thou hadst last in thy brain, and [[380]] single out that particular which did most puzzle and put thy understanding to it. Whereabouts, when the strength, heat, and intensity of thy whole soul is spent and improved, not only other impertinent wanderings and vagaries, but these idle and irksome injections also, will more easily vanish and be gone. Let others also proportionably upon such occasions, besides other helps, have recourse to the most troublesome and over-mastering part of their honest employments, to the chiefest and most needful affair of their lawful callings.

2. In temptations of this nature, never set thyself to dispute with the devil; he is an old sophist, of above five thousand years standing in the school of hideous temptations and hellish policies, and thou art but a novice. He bath many methods, devices, and depths, which thy shallow forecast cannot possibly fathom. Direct opposition by reasons and replies stirreth up the outrageous blasphemer to grow more furious, and hereby we give him greater advantage, snore matter of molestation and mischief, and may so plunge ourselves further into an intricate maze of horror and confused distractions. Our blessed captain, Christ Jesus, may be a pattern for us in this point. When he was tempted “to fall down and worship Satan; “he reasoneth not the case, but repels him with vehement, extraordinary detestation and disdain: “Get thee hence, Satan.” It will therefore be our best wisdom at such a time to turn from him; and as Hezekiah spread his blasphemous letter, so to lay open his fury before the Lord, crying mightily unto him, entreating him even for his own honour's sake to vindicate the purity of his great majesty, and excellency of his unspotted glory, from this hellish filth and horrible villany of the malicious fiend: that he would cast it as dung upon the tempter's face; and in the passion and blood of Christ, free fully, and for ever, our poor souls, trembling under the hideousness of his malice and cruelty, from the guilt, stain, terror, and assault of all such abhorred and prodigious blasphemy.

In that other terrible temptation also, to self-murder, many much wrong themselves this way. In managing this fiery dart, the adversary deals by way of argument too, and presses reasons, such as they are, upon the tempted; sometimes extremely absurd, especially if the party be something more simple and ignorant; sometimes exceedingly subtle, if he be of better understanding and capacity. And thus: “It is soon done, and the pain quickly past; thou art likely thus to languish and lie in misery all thy life-long. The longer thou livest, the larger will be the score of thy sins, [[381]] and so thy torments in hell more horrible hereafter. If it be once done, it will appear to have been God's decree, and I hope thou wilt not oppose the accomplishment of that. Do what thou canst, thou wilt be damned when all is done[1].” Now in this case if thou debate the matter with the devil, and begin to confer, thou art likely enough to be more and more confounded and entangled with inextricable astonishment and danger to be utterly undone, and suddenly blown up by the mine of his soul-murdering sophistry. But if, according to the example and practice of thy Lord and Master, who hath begun unto thee in this bitter cup, “is afflicted in all thy afflictions,” and ever stands by thee as a victorious commander and conqueror in all such assaults; first abominate and beat back this base and bloody motion with infinite indignation and loathing, “Avaunt, Satan! “and then immediately lay hold on the sword of the Spirit, and keep him at the point of it, and then assuredly all the devils in hell cannot hurt thee. Tell him, that against his vile and villainous suggestions and all the subtleties and sophistry with which he seconds it, this is thy only answer, even the precise, holy, and everlasting countermand of his and thy Creator, the mighty Lord of heaven and earth, “Thou shalt not kill.” Now if it be a crimson and crying sin, the most deadly opposite and desperate cut-throat of charity to kill another, and fasteneth such a deep and inexpiable stain upon the face of a whole kingdom, that it cannot be razed out “but by the blood of him that shed it” (Numb. xxxv, 33); how execrable and heinous then is this, and what depth of bell and height of horror doth that abhorred miscreant deserve and may expect, who makes [[382]] away with himself? For the rule of charity, whereby we love one another, is proportioned by that charity whereby a man loves himself. If the devil be able to dissolve and disannul the most absolute, perfect, and just law of the Most High, who though all other things besides may be something in possibility which as yet they are not in act; yet himself is actually and everlastingly whatsoever he may be, and cannot hereafter be that which now he is not; and so by consequence is without all “variableness or shadow of turning: “I say, if the “prince of darkness “can reverse this law of the “Father of lights,” “Thou shalt not murder;” thou mayest well say thou wilt then think of another answer. But till that be, which is more than infinitely impossible ever to come to pass, thou wilt rather lie in the miseries of hell upon earth (which indeed were incomparably better), than breaking God's blessed law, go down into the grave in a bloody coffin made by thy own hands only at the devil's bidding. Can this madness ever be matched? for a man, besides self-severing the soul from his body before the time, by a more heinous and unnatural villany than murdering of his own father (for every man is naturally next unto himself'), and sending it suddenly covered with blood, by becoming his own butcher and hangman, unto the dreadful tribunal of the all-powerful God, the most certain and severe revenger of all bloodshed; to bring also abundance of unnecessary shame, grief, and hopeless mourning upon friends, kindred, husband, children, parents; a reproachful stain and brand upon house, name, burial, posterity, &c.; and that merely at the instance, and upon the most absurd, ridiculous, and senseless suggestion of the arch-murderer, thy mortal and immortal enemy; against sense, reason, nature, religion, scripture, God's direct command to the contrary, even heathen philosophy, heaven and earth!



[1] Here if thou answer—Yea, but in the meantime it is better to spend the remainder of my few and evil days upon earth than in hell, he will reply, But so thou shalt increase thy sins here, and by consequence thy hellish pains hereafter; to which if thou rejoin, But the heinousness of self-murder and horribleness of despair may appear more vile anti execrable in the eyes of God than all the other sins I may commit to the last period of my natural course;—he may then hideously roar, But so thou mayest both go on to increase thy sins and make away thyself at last, and where art thou then? &c. 1 know him to have thus thrown his fiery darts into trembling• hearts one after another with extreme subtleness and cruelty; and therefore in these cases do not admit of any dispute or conference with him; but upon the very first assault (for who would hear him talk that will tell never a true word, and is thy sworn enemy?) be ever sure presently to lay hold upon the word of God, that weapon of proof which serves like a sword, not only for defence, as all the other pieces of armour, but also for offence. Beat hack with undaunted resolution and confidence this devilish dart, and stop for ever the mouth of the tempter with the contrary charge of the most holy anti all-powerful God— “Thou shalt not kill.”


f 21. Chap. 21. Three other things which men must be counselled to practise for the Cure of the former Malady.

posted 4 Mar 2014, 06:20 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 4 Mar 2014, 06:21 ]

CHAP. 21.

Three other things which men must be counselled to practise for the Cure of the former Malady.


3. AVOID idleness, solitariness, and too much secrecy; three main advantages for the adversary, which he watchfully apprehending, and plying industriously, works a world of mischief upon afflicted souls, in their spiritual miseries. Idleness lays a man open to all hellish snares and [[383] temptations, makes the heart, like unmanured ground, fit for nothing but the wildest and rankest weeds of lust, luxury, lewd company, the universal inordinateness of original corruption to domineer, rage, and do what it will. Like standing pools, naturally prepared and pregnant to breed and feed the vermin and venom of vilest thoughts and unnatural filth. Like thoroughfares for Satan's most hideous and horrible injections to wander and walk up and down in without restraint or remedy. Solitariness, besides its native property and power to make sad, increase melancholy, and aggravate fears, doth in this case, more than any, bring a heavy woe: “Woe to him that is alone: “for if the weak Christian fall, “he hath not another to help him up” (Eccles. iv, 10). He may there be surprized, yield and be foiled, before he get into such company as might happily have prevented it, or supported him in the temptation. Too much secrecy and concealment may cause the wound of a terrified conscience to bleed inward, rankle, fester, and grow desperate; whereas seasonable discovery might have cured and comforted it. Horror arising from the apprehension of such uncouth and monstrous thoughts, kept close, and dammed up in the man's own breast, may swell so high, that the poor soul may be in great danger to be woefully drowned and overwhelmed by it; which had it had vent betime, eased and emptied itself into some holy and faithful bosom, might, by divine and discreet counsel, by little and little dried up quite. I have known him who did bite in and keep close in his bosom this temptation of blasphemy the space of about twenty years; all which while the devil did tyrannize extremely, and keep him almost in continual terror. He thought there was never man had such vile and prodigious thoughts as he; and if the world knew what they were, he would be abhorred as a monster of men, and the loathsomest creature upon earth; most worthy to be utterly exterminated and rooted out of the society and confines of mankind. And hereupon many and many a time, when he apprehended any opportunity, or had any means offered to make himself away, he was tempted thereunto, principally upon this ground, that it was pity such a horrible blasphemer (for so he supposed) should any longer breathe. But at last hearing the nature, manner, and remedy of these hideous injections discovered by the ministry, afterward privately informing himself further and more fully from God's messenger, was happily taken off the rack for the time to come, and most wonderfully refreshed. And therefore take heed of keeping the devil's counsel. The tempted in this kind may do well to be still conversant in [[384]] religious duties, honest workers of their lawful callings, company of skilful experienced soul physicians, or one or other comfortable employment.

4. Settle in thy heart a peremptory impregnable resolution never to entertain any thought of that great majesty and glory above, of the most holy and ever-blessed Trinity, or anything thereabout, but such only as is revealed and represented unto thee in God's book. Whatsoever is objected by carnal reason to the contrary, or injected by the devil any ways to deprave the divineness of that glorious truth, ought to be rejected as cursed, false, and execrable. And therefore, when that hellish Nimrod shall at any time hunt and chase thine affrighted soul with these blasphemous hell-hounds, be sure ever to take sanctuary in the oracles of God, and keep thee close and safe under this covert. Whatsoever is not comprehended within the confines of that sacred pale, warranted by holy writ, the sovereign touchstone of all heavenly truth, let it be abhorred, and retorted as dung upon the face of the tempter. That sense and apprehension of the Deity and divine things which is not sucked from the breasts of the two Testaments, is in this regard to be reputed rank poison, repelled and abominated with infinite indignation and disdain. And for further help herein, when thou findest thyself thus followed with the violent and incessant incursions of this furious folly, call often and seriously to mind that accursed brand which the book of God hath set upon the adversary, that he is the “father of lies,” and let that still continue a more resolute rejection and contempt of whatsoever comes from him. Suppose a raging madman should follow thee up and down all the day long, and tell thee that thy father or special friend were a stone, a bird, a tree, a toad, or whatsoever is viler or more absurd; wouldst thou hereupon entertain and harbour in thy mind any misimpression or monstrous persuasion of the party? I trow not (only his senseless clamour and restless raving would be very irksome, troublesome, and unwelcome); especially since thou art furnished with a clear demonstrative light out of natural philosophy, that he is a reasonable creature, and thyself seest in him the face and favour, the shape and proportion of a man. Proportionably Satan, that bloodthirsty maniac of hell, out of that madness at which heaven and earth may stand amazed, solicits thee to admit such and such horrible and hideous conceits of thy dearest Lord, his Son, and sacred word. (Ah! cursed fiend, that ever thou shouldst discover such prodigious malice against thy glorious Maker!) Now God infinitely forbid that this should cause the least alteration, or [[385]] any diminution at all of thy lowliest, most reverent, adoring, and divinest thoughts of so great a God. For have recourse to the holy records of all sound, supernatural, and saving knowledge; I mean, the word of life with which thou oughtest to consult, and to which only thou art confined in this case; and thou shalt find him to be the “only one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost[1].” And besides thou mayest grasp as it were, and feel between thy fingers as it were, even in every creature, his greatness and goodness, majesty and might, power and providence. “In the glorious lights of heaven,” saith a noble writer, “we perceive a shadow of his Divine countenance; in his provision for all that live, his manifold goodness; and lastly, in creating and making existent the world universal by the absolute art of his own word, his power and almightiness; which power, light, virtue, wisdom, and goodness, being all but attributes of one simple essence, and one God, we in all admire, and in part discern per speculum creaturarnm, that is in the disposition, order, and variety of celestial and terrestrial bodies; terrestrial in their strange and manifold diversities; celestial in their beauty and magnitude, which in their continual and contrary motions are neither repugnant, intermixed, nor confounded. By these potent effects we approach to the knowledge of the omnipotent Cause, and by these motions their almighty Mover.” Whensoever therefore that most implacable and everlasting enemy to God's glory and the good of his children shall go about to pervert and cross by his blasphemous injections these sober and sacred conceptions of the thrice-glorious and ever-blessed Deity, planted in thy mind by his own word and this visible world, bid him, by the example of thy Lord and Master, “avoid and avaunt; “trample upon his hellish spite, appeal unto God's righteous throne with protestations of thine innocency; damning them unto the pit of hell in thy judgment, and hating them not without horror from the very heart-root; and so truly resisting them, crying mightily unto God for [[384]] pardon, whereinsoever thou shalt fail about them, and for power against them, and then possess thy humble soul in patience and peace.

5. Being humbled by them, making a holy use of them, perusing and applying the considerations and counsels in hand for comfort in them, and conquest over them; do not by any means continue to afflict and torture thy spirit about them. Let them now pass away and be packing; abandon them with a holy detestation, contempt, and slighting, without any such dismayedness and terror, as most unworthy of any longer taking to heart, or notice of; much less of that anxiety and trouble as to terrify, indispose, and disable thee for a cheerful discharge of either of thy callings, particular or general. Divines hold even godly sorrow unseasonable when it unfitteth the body or mind to good duties, or to a good and cheerful manner of doing them; how much more would they not have these hellish distractions and

intrusions to dishearten thee in this kind? But least of all of that pestilent prevailing, as to fill thine heart with extraordinary astonishment, horror, and doubting, whether such monstrous injections be incident to sanctified souls, a saving state, and habitation of the Holy Ghost, and so to put thee into a habit of heavy walking and secret sadness, by reason of continual questioning the soundness of thy conversion, the constancy of God's love unto thee, former assurance of an immortal crown, and whether it be possible that Jesus Christ should dwell in a soul haunted with such horrible thoughts; procurement of which miseries and molestations is the adversary's only aim; for so immeasurably malicious is he, that if he cannot plunge thee into the pit of hell and everlasting flames in the world to come, yet will he labour might and main to keep thee upon the rack, and in as much terror as he can possibly all thy life-long in this vale of tears. Suffer then this advice to sink seriously into thy heart: being enlightened, rightly informed, and directed about them, let them no longer astonish thy spirit, detain thee in horror, hurt thy heart, or hinder thee in any duty to God or man, or in a humble, comfortable, and confident walking with thy God as thou art wont, or of thy former sweet communion with Jesus Christ. And the rather, because, First, It is the tempter's earnest end only out of pure spite to put this imposture and unnecessary vexing perplexities upon thee. Secondly, The more thou art troubled with them and takest them to heart (for that is it lie would have), the more violently and villainously will he press them upon thee and terrify. Thirdly, They are not thine, but his fearful sins; lie alone must answer for [[387]] them at that great and last day, and thou go free. It is his malicious madness, of such a prodigious nature and notoriousness as is beyond imagination and above all admiration, only fit for a devil. That he may trouble thee temporally, he mightily aggravates his own eternal torment!



[1] Articles of Religion; Art. 1. — Exod. xx, 3; Deut. vi, 4; Psalm xviii, 31; Mal. ii, 10; 1 Cor. viii, 4; Psalm lxxxiv, 2; 2 Cor. vi, 16; 2 Chron. xv, 3; Jer. x, 10; John xvii, 3; 1 Thes. i, 9; Psalm cii, 24, 26, 27; Dan. vi, 26; Psalm civ; John iv, 24; 2 Coy. iii, 17; 1 Sam. xv, 29; Hos. xi, 9; Ezek. x, 5; 2 Cor. vi, 18; Revel. xi. 17; 1 Tim. i, 17; Rom, xvi, 27; Psalm cxlvii, 5; cvi, 1; and cvii, 1.


f 22. Chap. 22. The Experimental Way of curing the former Malady.

posted 4 Mar 2014, 06:17 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 4 Mar 2014, 06:18 ]

CHAP. 22.

The Experimental Way of curing the former Malady.


IN a second place let me tender unto thee an antidote, which hath been found sovereign and successful this way.

The sum of it is this — Let the tempted Christian labour to work and extract by the blessing of God some spiritual good out of the horrible hell of these most hateful, abominable, blasphemous suggestions. And if Satan once see that thou suckest honey out of his poisen, comfort out of his cruelty, medicine out of his malice, he will have no heart nor hope to go on; no courage nor contentment to continue the temptation.

Take it in the sense, if not in the same words, without any variation, or enlargement, as it was applied and prospered:—

“Spiteful and malicious fiend, cursed enemy to heaven and earth; by the mercies of God, though thy purpose be most pestilent, yet thou shalt not hurt or have any advantage against me hereby. Thy base and dunghill injections, tending to the dishonour of my God, and my Christ, &c. shall make me,

“1. More hate thine infinitely hateful and revengeful malice against that thrice-glorious and ever-blessed Majesty above.

“2. With more feeling and dearness to adore and love the glory and sweetness of my God and my Redeemer. For the more excessive and endless I feel thy spite against him, the more I know is his incomprehensible excellency and worth.

“3. To pray oftener and more fervently that my God would rebuke thee, and cast this extreme malice of thine as dung upon thine own face.

“4. To be still more humbled under the band of my mighty Lord; because I cannot be more humbled, and with more resolution and abhorrence abominate and abandon [[388]] such prodigiously senseless and hellish blasphemies of his (for 1 am sure they are none of mine) into the bottomless bottom of that darkest dungeon: in the blackest horror whereof, they were most maliciously and monstrously hatched.

“5. To take up a strong argument and answer against another of thy cursed injections tending to Atheism, and the not being of those endless joys above. Because I most plainly and palpably feel thee, an invisible spirit, casting into my imagination such horrid, absurd, and ridiculously impious thoughts, which cannot possibly spring ordinarily or naturally from any power or possibility of mine own soul. I know thereby and assure myself, that there is also an infinite, most wise, and glorious Spirit, which created both me and thee; and will in due time chain thee up for ever in the pit of hell, and bring me at length, by the blessed merit of his only dearest Son's bloodshed, into die bosom of his own glory and everlasting bliss.

“6. To confirm mine own heart with stronger assurance (which is no mean benefit) that I undoubtedly belong unto God and am in a gracious state. For thou well knowest, and so doth mine own soul, that thou never troubledst me to any purpose with these ugly blasphemous thoughts, while I yet lay stark dead in sins and trespasses, and drowned full deep in vanity and lust; in carnal looseness and sensual courses. Then thou, being the strong man, possessedst me wholly, and all was quiet, because all was thine. But being now happily rescued out of thy clutches by a mightier than thou, and having blessedly broke the prison by the help of the Holy Ghost, thou followest me with this fiery malice and the most prodigious yellings of that infernal pit. And 1 am persuaded it is a pestilent piece of thy deepest cunning, very rarely to vex civil worldlings; those that lie in any gross sin; or any which thou keepest fast and secure in thy snares with such affrighting and grisly temptations. For thou craftily fearest, lest striking that horror into the heart of a natural man, which is wont to arise from such hellish fogs and blasphemous filth, thou shouldst thereby give him occasion to renounce, detest, and drive him out of thine accursed slavery, and cause him to cast about for a new master.

“7. To take notice of some special corruption, lust, passion, or spiritual distemper in one kind or other, over which I have not holden that hand, hatred, wakeful eye, as it were meet. For I am persuaded my God, out of his merciful goodness, aims at and intends some 'such good unto my soul, by enlarging thy chain, and suffering thee at than [[389]] time to afflict me in this uncouth manner with this hell-empoisoned dart something extraordinarily. I have not been so sensible of thy other temptations, far more ensnaring in sin, though not so terrifying; and therefore my gracious Lord may suffer thee at this time thus to thrust out thy horns, as I may say, in this most horrible and outrageous encounter, that I may be thoroughly advertised what an adversary I have; and so more mind and mark him, for fear of much secret and sudden mischief by my security and neglect, and be more quickened to an universal watchfulness against all his methods, devices, and depths; as well his subtle and sly insinuations in the glory of an angel, as his impetuous and furious assaults in the shape of a foul fiend. Some trouble, cross, heavy accident, disgrace, discontentment; some great and weighty affair on foot, unseasonable entertainments, sad news from abroad, or something or other, hath too often stolen my heart from that full and fruitful attention to holy duties which was due, and that even upon the Lord's day. And I can now remember, and my conscience tells me upon this occasion, that I have not watched over the many idle, impertinent wanderings and vagaries of my imagination, as I ought; but given so far away unto them, that they have justly brought upon me an uncomfortable deadness of affection, barrenness and indisposition in the use of the ordinances, and conversing with God by meditation, prayer, hearing of the word, singing of psalms, examination of the conscience, and other religious exercises, and I know not into what further spiritual misery they may lead me; and therefore in great mercy the most wise God goes now graciously about to correct and mortify the vanity, worldliness, distractions, and misemployment of my thoughts, even by the terrors of these thy most horrible and hellish injections. And by the help of God I will follow the meaning and conduct of his holy hand for a right use of them, and attaining that happy end which he doth so mercifully intend.

“8. To gather skill, experience, and dexterity, for the raising and reviving of others hereafter, hanging down the head, heavy-hearted, and maliciously haunted in the same kind, by discovering unto them thy bootless malice, the sovereign medicines I have met with in the ministry of the word, and the good I gained to my soul hereby, by the help of that Almighty hand which can turn the darkest midnight into the brightest morning, and produce a medicinable potion out of the rankest poison.

“Methinks this heaven, which by Divine blessing I extract out of thy hell, this healing virtue which I draw [[390]] from thy vilest venom, this spiritual good which I gather from thy devilish spite, should make thee weary of this way, and desist from troubling me. I trust in my God it will shortly cause thee to cast away this weapon, and quit the field quite. For thou ever infinitely hatest and binderest all thou canst the glory of God, all exercise and increase of grace, and the welfare of my poor soul, which by accident and his sanctifying power, whoever turns all things to the best to them that love him, are all happily advanced, furthered, and enlarged by this raging and pestilent rancour of thine.

“And who would not think, were not the incredible depth of thy malice and madness equally unfathomable by the wit of man, but that thou shouldst the rather give over, because these Satanical suggestions to me that resists are but crosses and corrections; but in thee, most outrageous and execrable blasphemies, which will mightily hereafter add to the heaviness and horror of thine everlasting chains of darkness and damnation at the judgment of the great day.'“

CHARLES WOOD AND SON, PRINTERS,
Poppin's Court, Fleet Street.


f 17.Chap. 17. Two more helps for the Care of the former Malady.

posted 4 Mar 2014, 06:14 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 4 Mar 2014, 06:15 ]

CHAP. 17.

Two more helps for the Care of the former Malady.


5. Nay, hear the Spirit of all truth and comport himself immediately. “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in dark. ness and bath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” Whence we may draw a double comfort in time of desertion: —First. Because in thy present apprehension thou findest and feelest thyself in darkness, and to have no light; thou art ready thereupon to conceive and conclude unnecessarily against thy own soul, that God's favour, Jesus Christ, grace, salvation, and all are gone for ever. And this is the most cutting sting and sorest pang which grievously afflicts and rends the heart in pieces with restless anguish in such cases. Out of what depth of horror do you think did these heavy groans, and almost, if not altogether for the time, despairing speeches spring in those blessed saints mentioned before? “Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Doth his promise fail for evermore?” While I suffer thy terrors I am distracted. I am amazed, confounded, and almost mad with fear, lest my soul should be swallowed up with the horrors of eternal death. “I am afraid lest the Lord hath utterly withdrawn his wonted favour from me! Woe, woe, &c. A weak, a woeful, a wretched, a forsaken woman, I have no more sense of grace than these curtains. Oh! how woeful and miserable is my estate, that must thus converse with hell-hounds! It is against the course of God's proceedings to save me,” &c. But now herein the deserted in the sense I have said are much deceived, and extremely wrong; their own souls in such extremity not considering that their walking in darkness and having no light may most certainly consist with a saving estate and a being in God's favour, though for the present not perceived, which appears plainly by the quoted place, wherein he that walk-eth in darkness and bath no light is such a one as feareth the Lord and obeyeth the voice of his servant. Now the fear of God and obedience to the ministry are evident marks of a gracious man. Hence it is that when the servants of God are something come again unto themselves, they see and censure their own unadvisedness in that respect, disavow and disclaim all terms tending that way, which they [[363]] let hastily fall from them in the heat of temptation. “And I said,” saith David, “this is my infirmity; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.” “Truly,” said Mr. Peacock, “my heart and soul have been far led and deeply troubled with temptations and stings of conscience; but I thank God they are eased in good measure. Wherefore I desire that I be not branded with the note of a forlorn reprobate. Such questions, oppositions, and all tending thereto I renounce.” Here then is a great deal of comfort in the greatest darkness of a spiritual desertion: for we may assure ourselves that God by his blessed Spirit hash a secret influence and saving work upon the soul of his child, when there is no light or feeling of his favour at all. The sun, we know, though he leaves his light upon the face of the earth, yet notwithstanding descends by a real effectual influence into the bosom and darkest bowels thereof; and there exerciseth a most excellent work in begetting metals, gold, silver, and other precious things. It is proportionably so in the present point; A poor soul may lie grovelling in the dust, “afflicted, tossed with tempest,” and in present apprehension have no comfort, and yet blessedly partake still of the sweet influence of God's everlasting love, of a secret saving work of grace and almighty support of the sanctifying Spirit. Let us look upon the Lord Jesus himself. His holy soul, though he was Lord of heaven and earth, upon the cross, was even as a scorched heath-ground, without so much as any drop of the dew of comfort either from heaven or earth; and yet at the same time he was gloriously sustained by an omnipotent influence. And God was never nearer unto him than then; neither he ever so obedient unto God. And I make no doubt, but that the judicious eye of the well-experienced physician may many times easily observe it in those troubled, tempted, and deserted souls which they deal and converse with for recovery and cure. This secret and saving influence I speak of might be evidently discerned in Mr. Peacock, even at the worst. Some reverend ministers standing by his bed of sorrow asked him if they should pray for him. Mark well his answer. “Take not the name of God in vain,” said he, “by praying for a reprobate;” which words, well weighed, seem to imply and represent clearly to a spiritual discerning judgment some good measure even of the highest degree of divine love, preferring the glory of God before the welfare of his own soul, rather willing to have the means of his salvation neglected than the Lord dishonoured. One asking him if he felt anything of Christian affection towards such a one, meaning a godly man. Yes, saith he. Why? For [[364]] his goodness. Another coming to him upon the Lord's day, willed him to put his hand to a note of certain debts. “This is not a day for that,” said he: and at the same time he would hardly suffer any to stay with him from the sermon. Being told of suffering plaisters out of God's word to rest upon his wounded soul, he brake out thus: “Oh! if I had. Oh! if it would please God, I had rather than anything in this, or other three thousand worlds.” By these we may see, and other passages to the same purpose, that our blessed God had a secret working and saving influence upon his soul, even in the depth and hideous darkness of his most grievous desertion. Here is love, first, unto God in a high degree; secondly, dear affection unto his children, and that for his image shining in them; thirdly, love unto his sabbaths and salvation of others; fourthly, vehement desires after grace and God's favour. All which were undeniable demonstrations of a state of grace to every understanding eye, nay, unquestionable arguments of spiritual life and designation to eternal bliss. Whereupon my resolution was then, and protestation upon good ground, that if all the powerful eloquence which rested within the reverend bosom of mine own dear mother the famous university of Oxford, managed by the seraphical tongue of the highest and most glorious angel in heaven, had been industriously set on work for that purpose; except 1 had heard my blessed Redeemer say, I will rend a member from my body and throw it away; the Holy Spirit say, I will pull my seal from that soul which I have savingly sanctified; my gracious and merciful Father say, I will this once fail and forsake one of mine; —I could never have been possibly persuaded that that soul of his, so richly laden with heavenly treasure and gifts of God never to be repented of, so sincerely exercised in the ways of God and opposition to the corruption of the times, &c., should possibly perish! Secondly. Suppose thou shouldst “walk in darkness and have no light” in the sense of the prophet, for the residue and remainder of thy few and evil days in this vale of tears; nay, and die so, before comfort comes; yet be not discomforted. For “fearing God “and being upright-hearted, thy soul shall most certainly be preserved in spiritual and eternal safety “by staying upon thy God,” though thou be without any sense of joy and peace in believing. This life, though never so long, is but a moment to the life to come; but the “kindness is everlasting” with which “he will have mercy on thee.” Thy sufferings are but short, whatsoever they be; but thou hast eternity of joys in the world above, purchased and prepared for thee by the heart's blood [[365]] of that blessed Saviour of thine upon whom thy soul relies. It is the devil's policy, say divines, to procure for his slaves all the favours, honours, and advancements, all the prosperities and pleasures he can possibly, lest if he should not follow and fulfil their humours this way, they might think upon seeking after and serving a new master. Not caring to vex or molest them in this world, because he knows full well he shall have time enough hereafter to torment them in hell. And will not thou contrarily be content, if God so please, to pass through this vale of tears even with Heman's horror (Ps. lxxxviii, 15), since heaven is so near at hand, and thou hast a little before thee an everlasting time to row in the bottomless and boundless ocean of all glory and bliss, in an endless variety of new and fresh delights, infinitely excellent and sweet above the largest created conceit?

6. Let us suppose a Christian in these three states (and it is no very strange thing to those who observe or feel God's secret and unsearchable dealings with his children): — First, In a fair and comfortable calm and sunshine, after the tempestuous troubles and travail in the pangs of the new birth, when the light of God's countenance, the first refreshing warmth of his sanctifying Spirit, the fresh sweetness and vital stirrings of grace, the ravishing consciousness of his happy conversion, do fill his soul “as with marrow and fatness,” and feed it with a kindly and more lively disposition to all good and godly duties. Secondly, In a spiritual desertion, when the sense of God's favour, love, and wonted presence, the comfortable use and exercise of the ordinances, graces, and spiritual affairs, languish and leave him for a time. Thirdly, In the state of recovery and restitution from such fearful damp and deprivation of Divine comfort, unto former joyful feelings and re-enjoyment of his beloved; so that his revived soul may sweetly sing, “My beloved is mine and I am his.” Now, I doubt not, but that the middle of these three estates, being accompanied with hearty grief and groans for Christ's absence, restless pantings and longings after a new resurrection, as it were, of the sensible and fruitful operations of grace, renewed desires and endeavours for regainment of accustomed surer hold by the hand of faith, patient and prayerful waiting for the return of God's pleased face, &c., is as pleasing and dear, if not more so, to our merciful Father, as either of the other two. Do you not think, that the fathers of our flesh are as lovingly affected and meltingly moved to hear the obedient child sigh and sob, cry out and complain, because they look not kindly upon him; but for nisi of his affection have hid for a time the much-desired [[366]] beams of their fatherly favour, under some affected angry frowns, as when things are carried more currently and comfortably betwixt them without any great distaste and discontentment, or occasion to discover the mutual impatiency of their loves one unto another I And shall not the Father of our spirits, who loves us with the same love with which he loves the Lord Jesus himself; surpass as far in affectionate compassion towards us in the like case as an Almighty God doth a mortal man I He cannot choose, because the word is already gone out of his mouth: “Like as a father pitieth his child, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him” (Psalm ciii, 13). I am persuaded God's bowels of compassionate tender-heartedness and love did yearn within him towards Job with more dearness and delight at that cry, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him' (Job xiii, 15), than at any time else, even in the spring of his spiritual prosperity, or fullest tide of most heavenly feelings. Here then is comfort, more than thy heart can hold, if thou wilt be counselled by the prophets, that thou mayest prosper. For when thou thinkest that all is gone, that thou art a lost man, and utterly for oaken, even in the depth of thy spiritual darkness (thou being so spiritually disposed as I have said, and which thou canst not deny), I say even then (and thou oughtest so to apprehend and believe) the love of God is, as it were, doubled towards thee, much more endeared by reason of thy distress, and cannot hold, but breaks out many times into extraordinary pangs and expressions thereof, as we may see Isa. liv, 11, “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted,” &c.; and into profession of resolution and waiting to do us good, which he will superabundantly perform in the best time. “Beheld; I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.” (ibid.) “And therefore will the Lord wait that he may be gracious unto you; and therefore will he be exalted that he may have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him” (Isa. xxx, 18). Withdrawing the effects and exercise of our love from him whom we love dearly, makes it return with redoubled fervour into our own bosoms, and there grow into a more vehement flame, which never rests until it break out again with dearer pangs upon the beloved party. Even as when the sun suffers an eclipse, and its beams are driven back and reflected from the face of the moon interposed directly between it and our sight, so that they shine not upon us, then is the heat[1] and light thereof multiplied and much intended toward the [[367]] fountain, which afterwards is shed down upon us again more amiably and acceptably when the darkness is done. And let us further take notice, that Christ, our eldest brother, blessed for ever, deals with us in such cases as Joseph (a type of him in many respects) dealt with his brethren. He frowned upon them, handled them roughly, and frighted them extremely, only to humble them thoroughly; but in the meantime and midst of his menacing carriage, his heart was so full of natural affection, that he was enforced by the excess thereof to turn aside and weep, and so return to them again. “And he turned himself about from them and wept, and returned to them again” (Gen. xlii, 24). So the Son of God, as well as God the Father through him, though sometimes “in a little wrath he hide his face from us;” yet as he will certainly after “a small moment gather us with are at mercies; “so in the meantime “he is afflicted,” and most tenderly affected towards us “in all our afflictions.” See Isa. lxiii, 9.


[1] Or at least virtual rower of heating.


f 16. Chap. 16. Two other Helps for the Coring of the former Malady.

posted 4 Mar 2014, 06:10 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 4 Mar 2014, 06:12 ]

CHAP. 16.

Two other Helps for the Coring of the former Malady.


CONSIDER that some graces are more substantial in themselves, more profitable to us, and of greater necessity for salvation; as faith, repentance, love, new obedience active and passive, self-denial, vileness in our own eyes, humble walking with God, &c. Others are not so, or absolutely, necessary, but accompany a saving state an separable accidents; as joy and peace in believing, sensible comfort in the Holy Ghost, comfortable feelings of God's favour, rejoicing in hope, a lively freedom in prayer, assurance of evidence, &c. And from hence mayest thou take comfort in two respects:-1. Desertion deprives thee only of these comfortable accessories; but thou art still possessed of the principal, of the substantials of salvation; of which not the utmost concurrence of all hellish and earthly rage can possibly rob thee; and therefore thou art well enough in the meantime, and as safe as safety itself can make thee.

[[358]] 2. Loss of these less principal graces (which by accident is a singular advantage and gain) drives thee nearer unto Jesus Christ, at least by many unutterable groans, every one whereof is a strong cry in the ears of God, and causeth thee better to prize and ply, to exercise and improve more fruitfully those other more necessary graces without which thou canst not be saved. It is a wise and honest passage in Mrs. Juxon's monument: “She continued faithful to the end in the most substantial graces. For howsoever she mourned for the want of that degree of joy which she had felt in former times, yet she continued in repentance, in the practice of holiness and righteousness, in a tender love of God and to his word and children, in holy zeal and fruitfulness even to the last period of her days. And indeed her want of full joy was so sanctified unto her, that it was a furtherance to a better grace, namely, to repentance and self-denial, and base esteem of herself. And I call repentance a better grace than joy. because howsoever joy is a most excellent gift of the Spirit, yet unto us repentance is more profitable. For I make no question but that a mourning Christian may be saved without ravishing joy, and that Christ may wipe away his tears in heaven; but no Christian shall be saved without repentance and self-denial.” For instance, the darkness of our spirits in spiritual desertions sets our faith on work extraordinarily. In such a case it hath recourse with more love and longing to all the fountains of life, the person and passion of Christ, all the promises, God's free grace, his sweet name, and surveys them more seriously, searches and sounds them to the bottom, that by some means at least it may subsist and hold up the head in such an evil time, and amongst so many terrors and boisterous tempests. It is now put to the improvement of the very utmost of all its heavenly vigour and valour; and enforced to put forth its highest and most heroical act, even to cleave fast to the sure word of God against all sense and feeling, against all terrors, tricks of Satan, and temptations to the contrary. And by this extraordinary exercise and wrestling, it is notably strengthened and steeled for the time to come. For as sloth, idleness, and want of exercise doth much emasculate and make our bodies more inactive and unable, but hardship, agitation, and employment, doth much quicken and fortify them; so it is in the present point, without oppositions and assault, faith languisheth and lies hid; but when storms and spiritual troubles are abroad, it stirs up itself, gathers its strength and forces together, casts about for subsidiary assistance by prayer, ministerial counsel, meditation upon special promises for the purpose, [[359]] experimental recounting former deliverances, mercies, and favours upon ourselves and others, and so becomes far more excellent and victorious for future encounters. It furthers also repentance, in respect of,—First, Sight of sins. For through the glass of spiritual affliction we see more of them, and see them to be more monstrously vile. The clouds of inward trouble especially, unite as it were, and collect the sight of our souls, and so represent our sins more to the life and in their true colours; whereas the glistering of prosperity is wont to disperse and dazzle it. Secondly, Of sense. We are then more apprehensive of divine wrath and weight of sin, when we are terrified but with a taste of those immeasurable seas of bitterness and terror which it infinitely merits at the hands of God. Thirdly, Of hatred and opposition. We then grow into a more hearty loathing of that sweet meat which we are too apt to tumble into our mouth and Ale under our tongue, when we feel it accompanied with such sour sauce, and turned into gall and gravel within us. We shall afterwards be far more watchful, and afraid to give entertainment or warmth in our bosoms to those vipers which have so bitten and stung us. It makes self-denial more resolute and thorough; for the dearest and most desirable things of this life, compared with Christ, were never viler dung in our esteem than at such a time. We then find that most true, that though all the stars shine never so bright, yet it is still night because the sun is gone. But the alone presence of that prince of light creates a comfortable and glorious day, though never a star appear. So let us enjoy the Lord Jesus, and no matter though all the creatures in the world be turned into bears or devils about us: but if he withdraw himself, and the light of his countenance set out of our sight, the confluence of all the comforts the whole creation can afford will do us no good at all. It quickeneth notably our new obedience; in respect of, — First, Holiness towards God, and reverent heavenly behaviour about the first table. A general taste and trial whereof we may take, by comparing mariners in a storm with those arrived in a haven; prisons with theatres; burials with banquets; beds of sickness and expectation of death with strength of youth and prosperous health; and, which is punctual for my purpose, fits of temptation with times of spiritual welfare. For as in the one state we may observe too much presumption and putting far from us the evil day, forgetfulness of God, security and sloth; so in the other, trouble, danger, and distress, much alter the case. We shall then see them bitterly bewailing their former sins, trembling in the dust, seeking early God's face [[360]] and favour, falling to prayer, vowing better obedience, and promising upon deliverance much holiness and a happy change. What mighty groans of spirit proceed from the deserted in such a case, which are the strongest prayers, though in that agony they falsely complain that they cannot pray! How greedy are they of godly conference, counsel, and comfort out of the word, days of humiliation, of the most searching sermons, godliest company, presence and prayers of the precisest ministers! How fearful are they to hear any worldly talk upon the Lord's day! How sensible of the least sin, any dishonour of God, and all appearance of evil! In a word, how busy are they about that one necessary thing! Secondly, Of compassionateness towards others. Self-sufferings soften men's hearts towards their brethren: personal miseries make them pitiful and painful to afford all possible help in times of distress. Experience of our own weaknesses, wants, danger to sink under the waves of God's wrath, and disability to subsist by ourselves, begets a sweet mildness and gentle behaviour towards our neighbours, whose assistance, visitation, and prayers we now see we stand in need of in extremities and evil times. Prosperity is apt of itself to beget scornfulness, insolency, self-confidence, and contempt of others; but God's hand upon us, especially in afflictions of soul, teacheth us another lesson; to wit, how frail, weak, and unworthy we are. Thirdly, Of self-knowledge. In times of peace and calmness, looking through the false spectacles of self-love and conceitedness, we are ready to over-estimate and out-prize our gifts, to mistake shadows for substances, smallest mites of virtue for richest talents, the infant beginnings of grace for tallness in Christ. But remove these deceiving glasses, and let the touchstone of some sorer trial represent ourselves unto ourselves, and we shall more clearly see our spiritual abilities in their true nature and proportion. Then all unsound semblances of self-conceited sufficiencies and former flourishes of unhumble assurance, which, like gilded papers or posts, showing gloriously in the sunshine, and seeming pure gold in outward appearance, will vanish quite away and come to nothing in the fire of spiritual affliction. Then the weakness of our too much vaunted of Christian valour will be discovered unto us, and acknowledged by us, when we are put to wrestle with the wrath of God, and left to the horror of some hideous temptation.

4. Hear Mr. Hooker, a man of great learning and very sound in this point: I vary some words, but keep the sense entire. “Happier a great deal is that man's case whose soul by inward desolation is humbled, than he whose heart [[361]] is through abundance of spiritual delight, lifted up and exalted above measure. Better is it sometimes to go down into the pit with him, who, beholding darkness and bewailing the loss of inward joy and consolation, crieth from the bottom of the lowest hell, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!” than continually to walk arm in arm with angels; to sit, as it were, in Abraham's bosom; and to have no thought or cogitation, but of peace and blessing himself in the singularity of assurance above other men; to say, I desire no other bliss, but only duration of my present comfortable feelings and fruition of God, I want nothing but even thrusting into heaven, and the like. For in the height of spiritual ravishments thou art in great hazard of being exalted above measure, and so may be justly exposed to a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet thee, which is a very heavy case. But now on the other side, the lowest degree of humiliation under God's mighty hand is the nearest step to rising and extraordinary exultation of spirit. The extremist darkness of spiritual desertion is wont to go immediately before the glorious sun-rise of heavenly light, and unutterable light-someness in the soul. David securely pleasing and applauding himself in his present stability and strong conceit of the continuance of his peace, brake out thus: “I shall never be moved. Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong” (Psalm xxxvi, 7). But he was quickly thrown down from the top of his supposed immoveable hill; taken off from the height of his confidence, and lay trembling in the dust. “Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.” But now that sweetest rapture of incredible joy (for so he spake, “The joy which I feel in my conscience is incredible “) did arise in Mr Peacock's heart when he was newly come as it were out of the mouth of hell. Mrs. Brettergh's wonderful rejoicing followed immediately upon her return out of a “roaring wilderness,” as she called it. What large effusions of the Spirit and overflowing rivers of heavenly peace were plentifully showered down upon Robert Glover's troubled spirit, after the heaviest night, in all likelihood, that ever lie had in this world, by reason of a grievous desertion!


f 15. Chap. 15. Two Helps for the curing of a Man troubled with the former Malady.

posted 4 Mar 2014, 06:08 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 4 Mar 2014, 06:09 ]

CHAP. 15.

Two Helps for the curing of a Man troubled with the former Malady.


THUS having discovered the cases and causes of spiritual desertion, I come now to the comforts and the cure.

I. And let us first take notice of a double desertion First. Passive, when God withdraws himself from us. Secondly. Active, when we withdraw ourselves from God. And they are both twofold: —1. Temporary; and 2. Final.

1. Passive desertion temporary: as in David (Psalm lxxvii); Heman the Ezrahite (Psalm lxxxviii); Job; both the Glovers; Mrs. Brettergh; Mr. Peacock; and many more of God's children.

2. Final: in many after a woeful and wilful abuse of many mercies, means of salvation, and general graces. As Saul, Judas, &c.; such as have outstood all opportunities and seasons of grace; and all those, Prov. i, 24.

(1.) Active desertion temporary; as Solomon, &c.

(2.) Final; as in those, Heb. x.

Now in the present point I understand only a passive  temporary desertion; and therefore in that man who is truly engrafted into Christ by a justifying faith, and regenerated, who can never possibly either forsake finally, or be finally forsaken of God. Of whom Hooker thus speaks[1]:— “Blessed for ever and ever be that mother's child whose faith bath made him the child of God. The earth may shake; the pillars of the world may tremble under us; the countenance of the heaven may be appalled; the sun may lose his light, the stars their glory; but concerning the man [[353]] that trusteth in God, if the fire hath proclaimed itself unable as much as to singe a hair of his head; if lions, beasts ravenous by nature and keen with hunger, being set to devour, have, as it were, religiously adored the very flesh of the faithful man; what is there in the world that shall change his heart, overthrow his faith, alter his affection towards God, or the affection o: God to him?” My, and besides, since I only understand a temporary passive desertion, I must suppose it in him also, who sees full well and doth acknowledge from whence lie is fallen, is very sensible of his spiritual loss, afflicted much with the absence of the quickening and comforting influence of grace, and grieved at the heart-root that he cannot do God service, and perform holy duties with that life, power, and light-someness as he was wont; and thereupon resolves to give no rest unto his discontented soul from cries, complaints, and groans, until God's face and favour be turned towards him again, arid bring with it former feelings and fruitfulness, now so highly prized and heartily prayed for; which blessed behaviour doth clearly show him to differ from the backslider, a truly miserable and right woeful creature indeed, who insensibly falls from his forwardness, first love, intimate fellowship with the saints, all lively use and exercise of the ordinances and divine duties, and yet is never troubled to any purpose, neither doth challenge nor judge himself for it at all. For we are to know, that the presence of spiritual weaknesses, decays, and wants, and absence of due dispositions, accustomed feelings, and former abilities of grace, only then argue a backslider, and are evil signs of a dangerously declining soul, when they are willingly carried without remorse, or taking much to heart without any eager desire or earnest endeavour after more heat and heavenly-mindedness. A Christian may be without God's gracious presence and comfortable exercise of grace in present feeling, and yet no forsaker of God; but rather left of him for a time (his heavenly wisdom for some secret holy ends so disposing), while by grieving, striving, and strong desires, he unfeignedly thirsts after and seriously pursues his former acceptation and forwardness. Here then is comfort: God hath hid his face from thee for a season, and thou art left to the darkness and discomforts of chine own spirit, and thereupon art grievously dejected, thinkest thyself utterly undone; yet take notice, that in a spiritual desertion properly so called, thou dost not willingly forsake God, but God forsakes thee; or rather, as divines truly speak, seems to forsake thee; for lie deals with thee in this case as a father [[354]] with his child, who sometimes on purpose, still loving him extremely, hides himself from him, as though he were quite gone, to make it discover and manifest its love unto him by longing, seeking, and crying after him; and that for excellent ends, and ever for thy endless comfort:—First, to try whether thou wilt trust in him though he slay thee, as Job did. Every cock-boat can swim in a river, every sculler sail in a calm. In ordinary gusts, any man of meaner skill and lesser patience can steer aright and hold up the head; but when the black tempest comes, a tenth wave flows, one deep calls another, when the tumultuous darkness of the sky, the roaring of the restless element represents terrible things, and heaven and earth are blundered together, as it were, with horrible confusion; when nature yields, spirits faint, hearts fail; then to stand upright and unshaken; then to say with David, “I will not fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled; though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah: “I say, that is the man who is sound at the heart-root indeed, and steel to the back; and then is the invincible might and incomparable valour of faith made known with a witness, whoever bath God's sure word for the compass, and the Lord Jesus at the helm. Then doth this glorious grace shine and triumph above nature, sense, reason, worldly wisdom, the arm of flesh, and the whole creation. In such desperate extremities, and sorest trials, it shows itself like the palm tree that yields not to the weightiest burthens; the sheet-anchor that holds when other tacklings break; the oil, that ever over-swims the greatest quantity of water we can pour upon it. And with this improvement of the extraordinary power of faith, God is exceedingly well pleased and highly honoured. Secondly. To enure thee to patience, obedience, and submission to his blessed will in everything, even extremest sufferings if he so please. Thirdly. To work in thee a deeper detestation of sin and further divorce from the world. Fourthly. To quicken, improve, and exercise some special graces extraordinarily. “Thou didst hide thy face,” saith David, “and I was troubled. Then I cried unto thee, O Lord,” &c. (Psalm xxx, 7, 8.) Then was the spirit of prayer put to it indeed, and so was the grace of patience, waiting, and the like. Fifthly. To cause thee to prize more dearly and to keep more carefully, when it comes again, God's glorious presence, and the quickening influence of his grace and comfort. We never apprehend the worth and [[355]] excellency of anything so well as by the want of it. The uninterrupted and secure enjoyment of the best things, and even those that please us best, without vicissitude and interchange, is wont to breed such cheapness and satiety, and so dulls the soul's appetite, that it is neither so affected with their precious sweetness, nor thankfully ravished with the present possession of them as it ought. Health is highly valued when sickness hath made us sensible of such a jewel; we relish our food extraordinarily when we have fasted longer than ordinary; rest refreshes us most when our bodies have been tired and over-travelled. Sixthly. To make thee conformable in some measure to Christ's immeasurable spiritual sufferings. Seventhly. To manifest and make illustrious his mightiness and mercy in thy deliverance, and the power of Christ's resurrection.” “Wilt thou show wonders to the dead I” saith Heman, “Shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.” (Psalm lxxxviii). Those whom the merciful hand of God hath lifted up out of the depth of a spiritual desertion, will easily acknowledge it as omnipotent a work and wonder, as to pull out of the mouth of hell, and raise the dead men out of the grave. Eighthly. To represent unto thee the difference of thy condition in this life and that which is to come. This is our time of nurture, not of inheritance. Here we walk by faith, not by sight. We live by faith, not by feeling. In this vale of tears we are killed all the day long. But heavenly glimpses of unspeakable and glorious joy, and spiritual ravishments of soul, are seldom and short; their fulness and constant fruition is reserved for the next life. Here we are trained, as it were, in a spiritual warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil-; we are exercised unto new obedience by manifold crosses, troubles, and temptations. Satan is sometimes set upon us to afflict us with his own immediate hellish suggestions. Sometimes our own sins grievously affright us with renewed representations of horror. Sometimes our own God frowns upon us himself with his displeased and angry countenance; and in love leaves us awhile to the terrors of a spiritual desertion. He sometimes lays his visiting hand upon our bodies, and casteth us down upon our beds of sickness; sometimes he sends heavy crosses upon our outward states, and breaks the staff of our prosperity. Continually, almost, he suffers many malicious curs to bark at us with slanders, lies, disgraceful imputations, and all the enemies of grace to pursue us bitterly with much malice and disdain. Thus are we trained and entertained in this-world; our crowning comes in the world to come. Ninthly, To cause thee to have recourse with [[356]] more reverence, thirst, and thankful acknowledgment to the well-head of refreshings. If God once withdraw the light of his countenance and comfortable quickening of his Spirit, we shall find no comfort at all in any creature, no life in the ordinances, no feeling of our spiritual life, and therefore we must needs repair to the ever-springing fountain of all-sufficiency, &c.—Which blessed ends and effects, when the good hand of our God hath wrought, he will as certainly return as ever the sun did after the darkest midnight, and that with abundance of glory, and sweetness proportionable to the former dejection and darkness of our spirits. The lowest ebb of a spiritual desertion brings the highest tide of spiritual exaltation, as we may see before in Mrs. Briettergh and Mr. Peacock.

2. What is the reason that thou art so sad and sore afflicted for the absence of thy beloved, and with want of the wonted gracious and comfortable workings of the Spirit? It is because thou hast formerly grasped the Lord Jesus sweetly and savingly in the arms of thy soul, been sensibly refreshed with the savour of his good ointments, ravished extraordinarily with the beauty of his person, dearness of his blood, riches of his purchase, and glory of his kingdom, and hast heretofore holden him as the very life of the soul, and chiefest and only treasure; ejaculating with David unfeignedly from the heart-root, “Whom have I in heaven but thee I and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee” (Psalm lxxiii, 25). Earth is a hell and heaven no heaven without Jesus Christ. 1 say, the present grief that thy well-beloved is now gone. argues evidently this former enjoyment of his gracious presence:— and then build upon it as the surest rock. Once Christ's, and his for ever. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Rom. xi, 29): “whom he loveth once he loveth unto the end” (John xiii, 1): he is no changeling in his love, “I am the Lord,” saith he, “I change not: therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi iii, 6). Once elected, ever beloved; once new-born, and born to eternity: if once the sanctifying Spirit bath seized upon thee for Jesus Christ, thou art made sure and locked fast for ever in the arms of his love with everlasting bars of mercy and might from any mortal hurt and adversary power. Thou mayest then cast down the gauntlet of defiance against the devil and the whole world; and take up with Paul that victorious challenge unto all created things — “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, not powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate [[357]] me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” He may hide his face from thee for a while; but thou hast his own sure and inviolable word from his own mouth, that he will return and with “everlasting kindness have mercy on thee.” He may frown upon thee, I confess, for a season, and so fright thee with his terrors as though in thy present apprehension thou wert a lost man; but he never will, he cannot possibly forsake thee finally. “I have sworn once by my holiness that 1 will not fail David” (Psalm lxxxix, 35). And in the meantime thy former feelings of the motions of the Spirit and grace do give clear evidence and assurance that spiritual life is still resident in thy soul, though run as it were into the root, and though its more lively operations and effects be suspended for a time. The woman that hath once felt the child stir in her womb, is most assured that she is with child, that an immortal soul and natural life is infused into it by the omnipotent hand of God, though at other times she perceive no motion at all. It is so in the present point; and thy grieving also, groaning, and panting after Christ, is an unanswerable argument that thou art alive spiritually. Lay the weight of the whole world upon a man that is stark dead, and he can neither stir, cry, nor complain.



[1] In his Sermon on Hab. i, 4: Of the certainty and perpetuity of the Faith in the Elect.


f 14. Chap. 14. The Ninth and Tenth Causes of the former Malady.

posted 4 Mar 2014, 06:05 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 4 Mar 2014, 06:06 ]

CHAP. 14.

The Ninth and Tenth Causes of the former Malady.


NINTHLY. A spiritual desertion may seem a proportionable, fit, and most proper punishment and means to correct and recover the Christian, who out of infirmity and fear deserts the Lord Jesus and the profession of his blessed truth and gospel. If any be ashamed of him, refuse to do or suffer any thing for his sake, who hath given unto us his own heart's-blood, it is most just that in such a case he withdraw himself in respect of all sense and feeling of Divine favour and fruits of grace, or any comfortable influence at all upon the consciences of such cowards; that so, they being left to the darkness of their own spirits, and by consequence to the taste even of hellish horror for the time, they may be brought again to themselves, and taught by such terrors to return and become infinitely more willing to embrace the stake, if the times should be so cruel, and kiss the instruments of death, than languish any longer in the despairing extremities of such a desertion; to acknowledge it incomparably better to pass through the temporary bitterness of popish fire than to be abandoned to everlasting flames: nay, and that which is the greater hell, to be robbed of and rent from hint, in whose glorious presence alone is not only life and all lightsomeness even in this life, but also “fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore” in the life to7 come. This point appears and is proved by God's dealing with some of our martyrs in Queen Mary's time: —

Thomas Whittell, a blessed martyr of Jesus, was by the wicked suggestions of some popish incarnate devils, drawn to subscribe to their hellish doctrine; but considering in cool blood what he had done, was horribly vexed, and as he reports of himself, “felt hell in his conscience and Satan ready to devour him; “which terrible desertion and trouble of mind made him quickly return with great constancy and fortitude, and turn a most invincible and [[349]] immoveable martyr. Hear some passages from his own pen: —

“The night after I had subscribed I was sore grieved, and for sorrow of conscience could not sleep. For in the deliverance of my body out of bonds which I might have had, 1 could find no joy, nor comfort; but still was in my conscience tormented more and more,” &c.

“And I said (to Harpesfield, &c.), that my conscience had so accused me through the just judgment of God and his word, that I had felt hell in my conscience, and Satan ready to devour me; and therefore I pray you, Mr. Harpes-field, said 1, let me have the bill again, for I will not stand to it.”

“When the Lord had led me to hell in my conscience through the respect of his fearful judgments against me for my fearfulness, mistrust, and crafty cloaking in such spiritual and weighty matters, yet he brought me from thence again,” See.[1]

Tenthly. God is many times forced by their frowardness, lukewarmness, worldly-mindedness, cowardliness, self-confidence, falling from their first love, and other such spiritual distempers, to visit and exercise his children with variety and sometimes severity of crosses and corrections; as losses in their outward state, afflictions of body, disgraces upon their good name, oppression by great ones, discomforts in wives, neighbours, friends, children, &c. purposely to put life, quickness, fruitfulness, and forwardness into them, that thereby they may be more gloriously serviceable to himself, more profitable to others, and more provident to treasure up peace unto their own souls against an evil day. “God humbled] us,” saith a worthy divine, “by afflictions, and pricketh the swelling of our pride. He cutteth and loppeth us, to the end we may bring forth the more fruit. He filleth us with bitterness in this life, to the end we might long for the life to come. For those whom God afflicteth grievously in this world, leave it with less grief. He who hath formed us to fear him, knoweth that our prayers are slack and cold in prosperity, as proceeding from a spirit that is cooled by success, and as being only indited by custom. The cries which our own will produced are feeble in comparison of those which grief ex-presseth. Nothing so ingenious to pray well as sorrow, which in an instant formeth the slowest tongues to a holy eloquence, and furnisheth us with sighs which cannot be [[350]] expressed.” But now many times this physic which pincheth only the body, and wasteth us but in things of this world, doth not so work as he v, mild have it, and therefore he is constrained in love and for our good to proceed to more sharp and searching medicines, to apply more strong and stirring purges, which immediately vex the soul; as horrible and hideous injections, a spiritual desertion, and other affrighting and stinging temptations. He deals with theth in this ease as Absalom with Joab, when he would not come to him by sending once and again; he causes his servants to set his field of barley on fire, and then there was no need to bid him hasten. When inferior miseries and other means will not do it, God sets as it were their souls on fire with flames of horror in one kind or other, and then they look about them indeed with much care and fear, searching and sincerity: they seek him then to purpose, earnestly and early. For afflictions of soul are very sovereign, and have singular efficacy to stir and quicken extraordinarily, to wean quite from the world, and keep a man close and clinging unto God. How many (though perhaps they think not so) would grow proud, worldly, lukewarm, cold in the use of the ordinances, self-confident, or something that they should not be, if they were not sometimes exercised with injections of terrible thoughts? By this fiery dart the devil desires and endeavours to destroy and undo them quite; but by the mercy of God it is turned to their greater spiritual good. It is in this case as it was with him, “who thrusting his enemy into the body with full purpose to have killed him, lanced the ulcer which no physician was able to cure, and let out that corrupt matter that would have cost him his life.” By representation of such horror out of Satan's cruellest malice, they are happily kept more humble, watchful, earnest in prayer, eager after the means, weaned from the world, compassionate to others, &c. Hiding of God's face from him, and leaving him to the darkness of his own spirit, did put and preserve Mr. John Glover in a most zealous, holy, and heavenly life for ever after. Hear the story:

“This gentleman being called by the light of the Holy Spirit to the knowledge of the Gospel, and having received a wondrous sweet feeling of Christ's heavenly kingdom; his mind after that falling a little to some cogitation of his former affairs, belonging to his vocation, began by and by to misdoubt himself upon occasion of those words, Heb. vi, 4, “For it is impossible,” &c. Upon consideration of which words he was so far deserted as to be persuaded that he had sinned against the Holy Ghost; even so much, [[351]] that if he had been in the deepest pit of hell, he could almost have despaired no more of his salvation. “Being young (saith Fox), I remember I was once or twice with him, whom partly by his talk I perceived, and partly by mine own eyes saw, to be so worn and consumed by the space of five years, that neither almost any brooking of meat, quietness of sleep, pleasure of life, yea and almost no kind of senses was left in him. Who in such intolerable griefs of mind, although he neither had nor could have any joy of his meat, yet was he compelled to eat against his appetite, to the end to defer the time of his damnation so long as he might, thinking with himself no less, but that he must needs be thrown into hell, the breath being once out of the body. Albeit Christ he thought did pity his case and was sorry for him, yet he could not (as he imagined) help, because of the verity of the word which said, ‘It is impossible’ &c.[2]” “But what was the happy issue and effect of those extraordinary spiritual terrors and terrible desertion. The same blessed man of God, who writes the story and was himself with the party, tells us: “Albeit he suffered many years so sharp temptations, and strong buffetings or Satan, yet the Lord who graciously preserved him all the while, not only at last did rid him out of all discomfort, but also framed him thereby to such mortification of life, as the like lightly hath not been seen. In such sort as he, being like one placed in heaven already, and dead in this world, both in word and meditation, led a life altogether celestial, abhorring in his mind all profane doings.” Thus a spiritual desertion, or some other affliction of spirit, doth that alone many times, which variety and a long continued succession of ordinary outward crosses, one upon the neck of another, is not able to effect. For troubles of soul sooner take, and are of a quicker and stronger operation, than those which afflict the body. “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” Prov. xviii, 14. All other afflictions are nothing to this; they are but flea-bitings to the fiery scorpion. The stoutness of a man's spirit will stand under a world of outward miseries many times; but if the eye, which is the light of the body, be in darkness, how great is that darkness 1 if the spirit itself be crushed, which should support the whole man, how great is the confusion? Hence it was that faithful David waded through a world of troubles; yet all that time no malice of Saul, no hatred of the Philistines, no rebellion of Absalom, no [[352]] treachery of Ahithophel, no grappling with a lion, no fighting with a bear, no threatening of a vaunting Goliah, could so much discourage him. But when at any time he suffered immediately in his soul under the wrath of God, oh! then his very bones, the master-timbers of his body, are broken in pieces. “He roars all the day, and his moisture is turned into the drought of summer.” Then he speaks thus unto God: “When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth.”



[1] Fox's Acts and Monuments. See also in the same book the account of James Abbes and Thomas Benbridge.

[2] Fox's Acts and Monuments.


f 13. Chap. 13. Two more Causes of the former Malady.

posted 4 Mar 2014, 06:02 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 4 Mar 2014, 06:03 ]

CHAP. 13.

Two more Causes of the former Malady.


SEVENTHLY. Jesus Christ himself, blessed for ever, drank full deep of the extremity and variety of sorest sufferings in many kinds, not only to deliver his people from the “vengeance of eternal fire,” but also lovingly to learn out of the sense of that sympathy and self-feeling to show himself tender-hearted, kind, and compassionate unto them in all their extremities, and never to suffer them to sink in any trouble or affliction, though never so full of desperate [[342]] representations or apprehensions of impossibility to escape, or to be tempted at any time above their power and patience. And many are the means and methods by which he is wont to ease and mitigate their many painful miseries, especially that extremest one of martyrdom. 1. Sometimes he rescues them by his own mighty and immediate arm out of the mouth of lions, and pulls them by a strong hand from between the teeth of bloody persecuting wolves (2 Tim. iv, 17). 2. Sometimes he takes away or lessens the sting and fury of the torment and torturers[1]. The fire had no force at all over the bodies of those blessed men in Dan. iii, 27. And no doubt in Queen Mary's days, of most abhorred memory, he many times mollified and sweetened the rage and bitterness of those merciless flames for our martyrs’ sakes. 3. Sometimes he supports and supplies them with supernatural vigour and extraordinary courage over the smart and rigour of the most terrible and intolerable tortures. The heart of that holy proto-martyr, Stephen, was furnished and filled with those heavenly infusions of spiritual strength and joy. when “the heavens opening, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on his right hand” (Acts vii, 55, 56), which were gloriously transcending and triumphant over the utmost of all corporeal pain and Jewish cruelty. And so graciously dealt he with many other martyrs in succeeding ages, as we may read in ecclesiastical history. 4. He may sometimes also, out of his merciful wisdom, put into their hearts so much of heaven beforehand, and ravishing comforts of the world to come, that the excess thereof cloth swallow up and devour, as it were, the bitterness of all bodily inflictions and sufferings of sense. Thus mercifully dealt he with that worthy martyr, Robert Glover, even when he was going towards the stake. He poured into his soul upon the sudden such overflowing rivers of spiritual joys, that no doubt they mightily abated and quenched the raging fury of those popish flames wherein he was sacrificed for the profession of the gospel of Christ and God's everlasting truth. And assuredly that comfortable sunshine of inexpressible joy, which by the good hand of God was shed into Mr. Peacock's sorrowful heart in the depth of his darkness and desertion a little before the resignation of his happy soul into the hands of God, did make the pangs of death and that dreadful passage a great deal less painful and sensible, if not very lightsome and pleasant. Now in both these men [[343]] of God a woeful spiritual dereliction was a fit introduction and immediate preparative to the effusion of such a sudden torrent of strange exultations and ravishment of spirit upon their sad and heavy hearts. Conceive the point then thus: The Lord sometimes even in tenderness and love to his own dear children, whom he designs for extraordinary sufferings, may purposely possess them with such a paradise of divine pleasures as a counter-comfort to the extremity of their pains; that, besides their own private refreshing and support, their courageous insensibility and victorious patience thereupon may bring a great deal of terror to their tormentors, glory to their merciful Master, credit unto the cause, and confusion to the enemies of grace. And that there may be an addition of more heart and life to such joyful elevations of spirit, and that he may make the excellency of that spiritual joy proportionable to the exquisiteness of their tortures and trouble, he may in his unsearchable wisdom make way thereunto by a spiritual desertion, as he did in the fore-named glorious martyr, Robert Glover. For want of the sense of the comforts of godliness for a season, doth make our souls a thousand times more sensible of their sweetness upon their reinfusion.

Eighthly. Thus may the Lord sometimes deal with his best and dearest children, even by withdrawing the light of his countenance, leave them for a while to these inward conflicts and confusions of spirit, that thereby they may be fitted and informed with a holy experimental skill to speak feelingly and fully to the hearts of their Christian brethren, who may afterwards be tempted and troubled as they have been. For God is wont at all times in his church, so gracious is he, purposely to raise up and single out some special men, whom lie instructs and enables in the school of spiritual experience and afflictions of soul, with extraordinary dexterity and art to comfort and recover other mourners in Zion, in their distresses of conscience, stronger temptations, spiritual desertions, decays of grace, relapses, eclipses of God's face and favour, want of former comfortable feelings; in case of horrible thoughts and hideous injections, darkness of their own spirits, and such other soul vexations. And such a blessed physician, who is able to speak experimentally to a dejected sorrowful heart, out of practice and sense in his own soul, is far more worth, both for a true search and discovery, and sound recovery and cure of a wounded conscience, than a hundred mere speculative divines. Such a one is that one of a thousand spoken of by Job, who can wisely and seasonably declare unto his soul-sick patient the secret tracks and hidden depths of God's [[344]] dealing with afflicted spirits. Let us take an instance in those experimental abilities which David gained for such a purpose by his passing through that most grievous spiritual desertion recorded in Psalm lxxvii. The case of that Christian were most rueful, both in his own fearful apprehension, and to the injudicious eye of the beholders, who having spent a long time in a zealous profession of the truth, walking with God, and secret communion with Jesus Christ, should come to that pass, and fall into those woeful straits of spiritual trouble, — First, That he should fear, not without extraordinary horror, lest the mercies of God were departed from him for ever, and that the Lord would never more be entreated, or ever shine again with his favourable countenance upon his confounded soul. Secondly, That the very remembrance of God, which was wont to crown his heart with a confluence of all desirable contentments, should even rend it asunder and make it fall to pieces in his bosom like drops of water. Thirdly, That the pouring out of his soul with pitiful groans and complaints in secret unto his God, which heretofore did set wide open unto him heavenly flood-gates of gracious refreshing, should now quite overwhelm his spirit with much distracted amazement and fear. Fourthly, That that heart of his, which had formerly so sweetly tasted those holy pleasures which far pass the comprehension of any carnal apprehension, should now be so brimfull and dammed up with excess of grief, that no vent or passage should be left unto his speech. Fifthly, And which methinks is the perfection of his misery in this kind, that amidst all these heavy discomforts his soul should refuse to be comforted; that though the ministers and men of God stand round about him, bring into his mind and press upon him the pregnant evidences and testimonies of his own godly life, the unchangeableness of God's never-failing mercies to his people, the sweetness of his glorious name, the sovereign power and mighty price of his Son's blood, the infallible and inviolable preciousness and truth of the promises of life, &c.; yet in the agony and anguish of his grieved spirit he puts them all away from him as none of his, nor as properly belonging to his present state. He is readier out of his spiritual distemper to spill, as water upon the ground, the golden vials of the water of life, and sovereign oils of evangelical joy tendered unto him by the physician of his soul, than to receive them with wonted thirst and thankfulness into the bruised bosom of his bleeding conscience. Though they assure him in the word of life and truth, having had (for that 1 must suppose) true and sound experience of his conversion and former sanctified [[345]] courses, from Isa. xliv, 22, that as the heat and strength of the summer's sun doth disperse and dissolve to nothing a thick mist, or foggy cloud, so the inflamed zeal of God's tender love through the bloodshed of his own only dear Son bath done away all his offences, his iniquity, transgression, and sin, as though they had never been: and, Micah vii, 19, that that God which “delighteth in mercy” (ver. 18) bath cast all his sins into the bottom of the sea, never to rise again, either in this world or the world to come. The prophet alludes to the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea; and therefore they assure him, that as that mighty host sunk down to the bottom like a stone (Exod. xv, 5), or as lead (ver. 10), so that neither the sun of heaven nor son of man ever saw their faces anymore, so certainly all his sins are so swallowed up for ever in the soul-saving sea of his Saviour's blood, that they shall never more appear before the face of God or angel, man or devil, to his damnation or shame. Yet for all this, lying in a spiritual swoon, he finds his heart even key-cold, and as it were stark dead in respect of relishing or receiving all or any of these incomparable commits. The case thus proposed may seem very deplorable and desperate; yet consider what good David's experience might do in such distress; what a deal of life and light were it able to put into the very darkest damp, and must heartless faintings of such a dying soul, to have such a one as David, even a man after God's own heart, remarkably enriched and eminent with heavenly endowments, one of the highest in the book of life and favour with God, to assure it, that himself had already suffered as grievous things in his soul, if not greater, and passed through the very same passions and pressures of a troubled spirit, if not with more variety and sorer pangs; that proportionably to his present perplexities, he cried out with a most heavy heart—First, “Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will lie be favourable no morel Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies” (Psalm lxxvii, 7, 8, 9.) Secondly; That “when he remembered God he was troubled” (Psalm lxxvii, 3). Thirdly; That when he prayed unto God, and “complained, his spirit was overwhelmed.” Fourthly; That lie “was so troubled that he could not speak” (Psalm lxxvii, 4). Fifthly; That “his soul refused to be comforted” (Psalm lxxvii, 2), which painful passages of his spiritual desertion answer exactly to the comfortless case of the supposed soul-grieved patient. Nay, and besides assurance of the very sameness in apprehensions of fear and thoughts of horror, David also out of his [[346]] own experience and precedency might sweetly inform and direct such a poor panting soul in a comfortable way to come out of the place of dragons and depths of sorrow, by teaching and telling him the manner and means of his rising and recovery. Meditations of God's singular goodness and extraordinary mercy to himself, his church, and children aforetime, gave the first lift, as it were, to raise his drooping soul out of the dust. And no doubt ever since the same consideration, by the blessing of God, hath brought again many a bruised spirit from the very gates of hell and brink of despair. And in his happy perusal of ancient times, and God's compassions of old, it is very probable that his memory first met with Adam, a most wonderful and matchless pattern of God's rarest mercies to a most forlorn wretch. For he was woefully guilty by his transgression of casting both himself and all his sous and daughters from the creation to the world's end out of Paradise into the pit of hell, and also of poisoning with the cursed contagion of original corruption, the souls and bodies of all that ever were or shall be born of woman, the Lord Jesus only excepted. And yet this man, as best divines suppose, though he had cast away himself and undone all mankind, was received to mercy. Let never poor soul, then, while the world lasts, upon true and timely repentance, suffer the heinousness and horror of his former sins, whatsoever they have been, to hinder his hopeful access unto the throne of grace, for present pardon of them all; or at any time afterward confound his comfort and confidence in God's gracious promises. Thus, no doubt, the weary soul of this man of God waded further into those bottomless seas of mercies, manifested and made good from time to time upon his servants. His heavy heart might sweetly refresh and repose itself upon the contemplation of God's never-failing compassion in not casting off Arron everlastingly for his fall into most horrible idolatry; in not suffering the murmuring and rebellious Jews to perish all and utterly in the wilderness, considering their many prodigious provocations and impatiencies, &c. But at length, as we may see in the fore-cited psalm, his soul sets its triumphant Sehah upon that great and miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea, one of the most glorious and visible miracles of mercy that ever shone from heaven upon the sons of men, and also a blessed type of the salvation of all truly penitent and perplexed souls from the hellish Pharaoh and all infernal powers, in the Red Sea of our Saviour's blood. How fairly now and feelingly might these experimental instructions, and this passage of proof, trodden and marked out by this holy man, enlighten and [[347]] conduct any. “that walks in darkness and hath no comfort,” out of the like distracted horror of a spiritual desertion? Let him in such a case first cast back his eye upon God's former manifold merciful dealings with himself. if his God made his soul, of the darkest nook of hell, as it were, by reason of its sinfulness and cursedness, as fair and beautiful as the brightest sun-beam by that sovereign blood which gushed out of the heart, and those precious graces which shine upon it from the face of his Son, that never-setting sun of righteousness, he will undoubtedly in due season dispel all those mists of spiritual misery which overshadow the glory and comfort of it for a time. If he upheld him by his merciful hand from sinking into hell when he was a horrible transgressor of all his laws with greediness and delight, he will most certainly (though perhaps for a small moment he hide his face from him) bind up his soul in the bundle of the living for ever; now especially, when he prefers the love and light of his countenance before life. and would not willingly offend him in the least sin for all the world, &c. Let him yet proceed further in David's footsteps, and strengthen his fainting soul with all that heavenly manna of richest mercy which he bath heard, read, or known to have been showered down at any time from the throne of grace into the heavy, humble, and hungry hearts of his afflicted hidden ones. Let him refresh his memory with consideration of David's deliverance by this means from deeper distress, of that most memorable and triumphant resurrection, as it were, and recovery of those three worthy saints of God, Mr. Glover, Mrs. Brettergh, and Mr. Peacock, from greatest extremity in this kind, into most unutterable joyful exultations of spirit. And so of others within the register of his observation, remembrance, and reading. But principally, and above all, let him live and die, let him rest and recreate himself for ever, with surest holdfast and sweetest thoughts upon that heavenly and healing anti-type of the Red Sea, the precious blood of the Lord Jesus. And let him ground upon it, that though Satan with all his hellish hosts and utmost fury pursue his fearful soul like a partridge in the mountains, even to the very brink of despair and mouth of hell, yet even then, when all rescue and deliverance is nearest to be utterly despaired of (for it is the crown of God's glorious mercy to save when the case seems desperate, and there is no hope of human help or possibility of created power to comfort; I say, then that soul-saving sea of his Saviour's heart's blood will most certainly and seasonably open itself wide unto him, as it did to those above-named blessed saints, and swallow up into [[348]] victory, hell, death, the grave, damnation, the present woeful desertion, with all other adversary power; and at length make him a fair and pleasant passage through the sweetened pangs of death into the heavenly Canaan, which flows with joys and pleasures unmixed and endless, more than either tongue can tell or heart can think.



[1] Let no Christian, then, afflict his soul with any corroding or vexing forethought of fiery times. Assure thyself, if God call thee to suffer in that kind, he will graciously give unto thee a martyr’s faith, a martyr’s patience, and a crown of martyrdom.


1-10 of 76