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.