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.'“

Poppin's Court, Fleet Street.