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Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan

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of a dreadful judge, yet this was my torment, I could not escape
His hand: (It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the
living God. Hebrew x.) But, blessed be His grace, that scripture,
in these flying fits, would call, as running after me, I have
blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions; and as a cloud,
thy sins: return unto Me, for I have redeemed thee. Isaiah xliv.
22. This, I say, would come in upon my mind, when I was fleeing
from the face of God; for I did flee from His face; that is, my
mind and spirit fled before Him; by reason of His highness, I could
not endure: then would the text cry, Return unto Me; it would cry
aloud with a very great voice, Return unto Me, for I have redeemed
thee. Indeed, this would make me make a little stop, and, as it
were, look over my shoulder behind me, to see if I could discern
that the God of grace did follow me with a pardon in His hand; but
I could no sooner do that, but all would be clouded and darkened
again by that sentence, For you know, how that afterwards, when he
would have inherited the blessing, he found no place of repentance,
though he sought it carefully with tears. Wherefore I could not
refrain, but fled, though at some times it cried, Return, return,
as if it did hollow after me: but I feared to close in therewith,
lest it should not come from God; for that other, as I said, was
still sounding in my conscience, For you know that afterwards, when
he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected, etc.

174. Once as I was walking to and fro in a good man's shop,
bemoaning of myself in my sad and doleful state, afflicting myself
with self-abhorrence for this wicked and ungodly thought; lamenting
also this hard hap of mine for that I should commit so great a sin,
greatly fearing that I should not be pardoned; praying also in my
heart, that if this sin of mine did differ from that against the
Holy Ghost, the Lord would show it me. And being now ready to sink
with fear, suddenly there was, as if there had rushed in at the
window, the noise of wind upon me, but very pleasant, and as if I
heard a voice speaking, Did'st thou ever refuse to be justified by
the blood of Christ? and withal, my whole life of profession past,
was in a moment opened to me, wherein I was made to see, that
designedly I had not: so my heart answered groaningly, No. Then
fell, with power, that word of God upon me, See that ye refuse not
Him that speaketh. Hebrew xii. 25. This made a strange seizure
upon my spirit; it brought light with it, and commanded a silence
in my heart, of all those tumultuous thoughts, that did before use,
like masterless hell-hounds, to roar and bellow, and make an
hideous noise within me. It showed me also that Jesus Christ had
yet a word of grace and mercy for me, that He had not, as I had
feared, quite forsaken and cast off my soul; yea, this was a kind
of chide for my proneness to desperation; a kind of threatening of
me, if I did not, notwithstanding my sins, and the heinousness of
them, venture my salvation upon the Son of God. But as to my
determining about this strange dispensation, what it was, I know
not; or from whence it came, I know not; I have not yet in twenty
years' time been able to make a judgment of it; I thought then what
here I should be loth to speak. But verily that sudden rushing
wind was, as if an angel had come upon me; but both it, and the
salutation, I will leave until the day of judgment: only this I
say, it commanded a great calm in my soul; it persuaded me there
might be hope: it showed me, as I thought, what the sin
unpardonable was, and that my soul had yet the blessed privilege to
flee to Jesus Christ for mercy. But I say, concerning this
dispensation; I know not yet what to say unto it; which was also,
in truth, the cause, that at first I did not speak of it in the
book; I do now also leave it to be thought on by men of sound
judgment. I lay not the stress of my salvation thereupon, but upon
the Lord Jesus, in the promise; yet seeing I am here unfolding of
my secret things, I thought it might not be altogether inexpedient
to let this also show itself, though I cannot now relate the matter
as there I did experience it. This lasted in the savour of it for
about three or four days, and then I began to mistrust, and to
despair again.

175. Wherefore still my life hung in doubt before me, not knowing
which way I should tip; only this I found my soul desire, even to
cast itself at the foot of grace, by prayer and supplication. But
oh! 'twas hard for me now, to have the face to pray to this Christ
for mercy, against Whom I had thus most vilely sinned: 'twas hard
work, I say, to offer to look Him in the face, against Whom I had
so vilely sinned; and indeed, I have found it as difficult to come
to God by prayer, after backsliding from Him, as to do any other
thing. Oh! the shame that did now attend me! especially when I
thought, I am now a-going to pray to Him for mercy, that I had so
lightly esteemed but a while before! I was ashamed; yea, even
confounded, because this villany had been committed by me: but I
saw that there was but one way with me; I must go to Him, and
humble myself unto Him, and beg that He, of His wonderful mercy,
would show pity to me, and have mercy upon my wretched sinful soul.

176. Which, when the tempter perceived, he strongly suggested to
me, That I ought not to pray to God, for prayer was not for any in
my case; neither could it do me good, because I had rejected the
Mediator, by Whom all prayers came with acceptance to God the
Father; and without Whom, no prayer could come into His presence:
wherefore now to pray, is but to add sin to sin; yea, now to pray,
seeing God has cast you off, is the next way to anger and offend
Him more than you ever did before.

177. For God (saith he) hath been weary of you for these several
years already, because you are none of His; your bawlings in His
ears, hath been no pleasant voice to Him; and therefore He let you
sin this sin, that you might be quite cut off; and will you pray
still? This the devil urged, and set forth that in Numbers, when
Moses said to the children of Israel, That because they would not
go up to possess the land, when God would have them, therefore for
ever after He did bar them out from thence, though they prayed they
might with tears. Numbers xiv. 36, 37, etc.

178. As it is said in another place, Exodus xxi. 14, The man that
sins presumptuously shall be taken from God's altar, that he may
die; even as Joab was by King Solomon, when he thought to find
shelter there. 1 Kings ii. 27, 28, etc. These places did pinch me
very sore; yet my case being desperate, I thought with myself, I
can but die; and if it must be so, it shall once be said, That such
an one died at the foot of Christ in prayer. This I did, but with
great difficulty, God doth know; and that because, together with
this, still that saying about Esau would be set at my heart, even
like a flaming sword, to keep the way of the tree of life, lest I
should take thereof and live. Oh! who knows how hard a thing I
found it, to come to God in prayer!

179. I did also desire the prayers of the people of God for me,
but I feared that God would give them no heart to do it; yea I
trembled in my soul to think, that some or other of them would
shortly tell me, that God hath said those words to them, that He
once did say to the prophet concerning the children of Israel, Pray
not for this people, for I have rejected them. Jeremiah xi. 14.
So, Pray not for him, for I have rejected him, yea, I thought that
He had whispered this to some of them already, only they durst not
tell me so; neither durst I ask them of it, for fear if it should
be so, it would make me quite beside myself: Man knows the
beginning of sin (said Spira), but who bounds the issues thereof?

180. About this time I took an opportunity to break my mind to an
ancient Christian, and told him all my case: I told him also, that
I was afraid that I had sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost; and
he told me, He thought so too. Here therefore I had but cold
comfort; but talking a little more with him, I found him, though a
good man, a stranger to much combat with the devil. Wherefore I
went to God again, as well as I could, for mercy still.

181. Now also did the tempter begin to mock me in my misery,
saying, That seeing I had thus parted with the Lord Jesus, and
provoked Him to displeasure, Who would have stood between my soul
and the flame of devouring fire, there was now but one way; and
that was, to pray that God the Father would be a Mediator betwixt
His Son and me; that we might be reconciled again, and that I might
have that blessed benefit in Him, that His blessed saints enjoyed.

182. Then did that scripture seize upon my soul, He is of one
mind, and who can turn Him! Oh! I saw, it was as easy to persuade
Him to make a new world, a new covenant, or a new Bible, besides
that we have already, as to pray for such a thing. This was to
persuade Him, that what He had done already was mere folly, and
persuade Him to alter, yea, to disannul the whole way of salvation.
And then would that saying rend my soul asunder; Neither is there
salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven
given among men whereby we must be saved. Acts iv. 12.

183. Now the most free, and full and gracious words of the gospel,
were the greatest torment to me; yea, nothing so afflicted me, as
the thoughts of Jesus Christ, the remembrance of a Saviour; because
I had cast Him off, brought forth the villany of my sin, and my
loss by it, to mind; nothing did twinge my conscience like this:
every time that I thought of the Lord Jesus, of His grace, love,
goodness, kindness, gentleness, meekness, death, blood, promises,
and blessed exhortations, comforts, and consolations, it went to my
soul like a sword; for still unto these my considerations of the
Lord Jesus, these thoughts would make place for themselves in my
heart: Aye, this is the Jesus, the loving Saviour, the Son of God,
Whom you have parted with, Whom you have slighted, despised, and
abused. This is the only Saviour, the only Redeemer, the only One
that could so love sinners, as to wash them from their sins in His
own most precious blood; but you have no part nor lot in this
Jesus: you have put Him from you; you have said in your heart, Let
Him go, if He will. Now, therefore, you are severed from Him; you
have severed yourself from Him: behold then His goodness, but
yourself to be no partaker of it. Oh! thought I, what have I lost,
what have I parted with! What has disinherited my poor soul! Oh!
'tis sad to be destroyed by the grace and mercy of God; to have the
Lamb, the Saviour, turn lion and destroyer. Rev. vi. I also
trembled, as I have said, at the sight of the saints of God,
especially at those that greatly loved Him, and that made it their
business to walk continually with Him in this world; for they did,
both in their words, their carriages, and all their expressions of
tenderness and fear to sin against their precious Saviour, condemn,
lay guilt upon, and also add continual affliction and shame upon my
soul. The dread of them was upon me, and I trembled at God's
Samuels. 1 Sam. xvi. 4.

184. Now also the tempter began afresh to mock my soul another
way, saying, That Christ indeed did pity my case, and was sorry for
my loss; but forasmuch as I had sinned and transgressed as I had
done, He could by no means help me, nor save me from what I feared:
for my sin was not of the nature of theirs, for Whom He bled and
died; neither was it counted with those that were laid to His
charge, when He hanged on a tree: therefore, unless He should come
down from heaven, and die anew for this sin, though indeed He did
greatly pity me, yet I could have no benefit of Him. These things
may seem ridiculous to others, even as ridiculous as they were in
themselves, but to me they were most tormenting cogitations: every
one of them augmented my misery, that Jesus Christ should have so
much love as to pity me, when yet He could not help me; nor did I
think that the reason why He could not help me, was, because His
merits were weak, or His grace and salvation spent on others
already, but because His faithfulness to His threatening, would not
let Him extend His mercy to me. Besides, I thought, as I have
already hinted, that my sin was not within the bounds of that
pardon, that was wrapped up in a promise; and if not, then I knew
assuredly, that it was more easy for heaven and earth to pass away,
than for me to have eternal life. So that the ground of all these
fears of mine did arise from a steadfast belief I had of the
stability of the holy word of God, and also from my being
misinformed of the nature of my sin.

185. But oh! how this would add to my affliction, to conceit that
I should be guilty of such a sin, for which He did not die. These
thoughts would so confound me, and imprison me, and tie me up from
faith, that I knew not what to do. But oh! thought I, that He
would come down again! Oh! that the work of man's redemption was
yet to be done by Christ! how would I pray Him and entreat Him to
count and reckon this sin among the rest for which He died! But
this scripture would strike me down as dead; Christ being raised
from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him.
Rom. vi. 9.

186. Thus, by the strange and unusual assaults of the tempter, my
soul was like a broken vessel, driven as with the winds, and tossed
sometimes headlong into despair; sometimes upon the covenant of
works, and sometimes to wish that the new covenant, and the
conditions thereof, might so far forth, as I thought myself
concerned, be turned another way, and changed, But in all these, I
was as those that jostle against the rocks; more broken, scattered
and rent. Oh! the un-thought-of imaginations, frights, fears, and
terrors, that are affected by a thorough application of guilt
yielding to desperation! This is the man that hath his dwelling
among the tombs with the dead; that is always crying out, and
cutting himself with stones. Mark v. 1, 2, 3. But, I say, all in
vain; desperation will not comfort him, the old covenant will not
save him: nay, heaven and earth shall pass away, before one jot or
tittle of the word and law of grace will fail or be removed. This
I saw, this I felt, and under this I groaned; yet this advantage I
got thereby, namely, a farther confirmation of the certainty of the
way of salvation; and that the scriptures were the word of God.
Oh! I cannot now express what then I saw and felt of the steadiness
of Jesus Christ, the rock of man's salvation: What was done, could
not be undone, added to, nor altered. I saw, indeed, that sin
might drive the soul beyond Christ, even the sin which is
unpardonable; but woe to him that was so driven, for the word would
shut him out.

187. Thus I was always sinking, whatever I did think or do. So
one day I walked to a neighbouring town, and sate down upon a
settle in the street, and fell into a very deep pause about the
most fearful state my sin had brought me to; and after long musing,
I lifted up I sat my head, but methought I saw, as if the sun that
shineth in the heavens did grudge to give light; and as if the very
stones in the street, and tiles upon the houses, did bend
themselves against me. Methought that they all combined together
to banish me out of the world. I was abhorred of them, and unfit
to dwell among them, or be partaker of their benefits, because I
had sinned against the Saviour. O how happy now was every creature
over I was! For they stood fast, and kept their station, but I was
gone and lost.

188. Then breaking out in the bitterness of my soul, I said to
myself with a grievous sigh, How can God comfort such a wretch! I
had no sooner said it, but this returned upon me, as an echo doth
answer a voice: This sin is not unto death. At which I was, as if
I had been raised out of the grave, and cried out again, Lord, how
couldst Thou find out such a word as this! For I was filled with
admiration at the fitness, and at the unexpectedness of the
sentence; the fitness of the word, the rightness of the timing of
it; the power, and sweetness, and light, and glory that came with
it also, were marvellous to me to find: I was now, for the time,
out of doubt, as to that about which I was so much in doubt before;
my fears before were, that my sin was not pardonable, and so that I
had no right to pray, to repent, etc., or that, if I did, it would
be of no advantage or profit to me. But now, thought I, if this
sin is not unto death, then it is pardonable; therefore from this I
have encouragement to come to God by Christ for mercy, to consider
the promise of forgiveness, as that which stands with open arms to
receive me as well as others. This therefore was a great easement
to my mind, to wit, that my sin was pardonable, that it was not the
sin unto death (1 John v. 16, 17). None but those that know what
my trouble (by their own experience) was, can tell what relief came
to my soul by this consideration: it was a release to me from my
former bonds, and a shelter from the former storm: I seemed now to
stand upon the same ground with other sinners, and to have as good
right to the word and prayer as any of they.

189. Now I say, I was in hopes that my sin was not unpardonable,
but that there might be hopes for me to obtain forgiveness. But
oh! how Satan did now lay about him for to bring me down again!
But he could by no means do it, neither this day, nor the most part
of the next, for this good sentence stood like a mill-post at my
back: yet towards the evening of the next day, I felt this word
begin to leave me, and to withdraw its supportation from me, and so
I returned to my old fears again, but with a great deal of grudging
and peevishness, for I feared the sorrow of despair; nor could my
faith now long retain this word.

190. But the next day at evening, being under many fears, I went
to seek the Lord, and as I prayed, I cried, and my soul cried to
Him in these words, with strong cries: O Lord, I beseech Thee,
show me that Thou hast loved me with everlasting love. Jer. xxxi.
3. I had no sooner said it, but with sweetness this returned upon
me, as an echo, or sounding again, I have loved thee with an
everlasting love. Now I went to bed in quiet; also when I awakened
the next morning, it was fresh upon my soul; and I believed it.

191. But yet the tempter left me not; for it could not be so
little as an hundred times, that he that day did labour to then
break my peace. Oh! the combats and conflicts that I did then meet
with; as I strove to hold by this word, that of Esau would fly in
my face like lightning: I should be sometimes up and down twenty
times in an hour; yet God did bear me up, and keep my heart upon
this word; from which I had also, for several days together, very
much sweetness, and comfortable hopes of pardon: for thus it was
made out unto me, I loved thee whilst thou wast committing this
sin, I loved thee before, I love thee still, and I will love thee
for ever.

192. Yet I saw my sin most barbarous, and a filthy crime, and
could not but conclude, and that with great shame and astonishment,
that I had horribly abused the holy Son of God: wherefore I felt
my soul greatly to love and pity Him, and my bowels to yearn
towards Him; for I saw He was still my friend, and did reward me
good for evil; yea, the love and affection that then did burn
within to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, did work at this time
such a strong and hot desire of revengement upon myself for the
abuse I had done unto Him, that to speak as I then thought, had I
had a thousand gallons of blood within my veins, I could freely
then have spilt it all, at the command and feet of this my Lord and

193. And as I was thus in musing, and in my studies, considering
how to love the Lord, and to express my love to Him, that saying
came in upon me, If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord,
who should stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou
mayest be feared. Psalm cxxx. 3, 4. These were good words to me,
especially the latter part thereof; to wit, that there is
forgiveness with the Lord, that He might be feared; that is, as
then I understood it, that He might be loved, and had in reverence;
for it was thus made out to me, That the great God did set so high
an esteem upon the love of His poor creatures, that rather than He
would go without their love, He would pardon their transgressions.

194. And now was that word fulfilled on me, and I was also
refreshed by it; That thou mayest remember and be confounded, and
never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I am
pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord
God. Ezek. xvi. 63. Thus was my soul at this time (and as I then
did think for ever) set at liberty from being afflicted with my
former guilt and amazement.

195. But before many weeks were gone, I began to despond again,
fearing, lest, notwithstanding all that I had enjoyed, that I might
be deceived and destroyed at the last; for this consideration came
strong into my mind, That whatever comfort and peace I thought I
might have from the word of the promise of life, yet unless there
could be found in my refreshment, a concurrence and agreement in
the scriptures, let me think what I will thereof, and hold it never
so fast, I should find no such thing at the end; And the scripture
cannot be broken. John x. 35.

196. Now began my heart again to ache, and fear I might meet with
a disappointment at last. Wherefore I began with all seriousness
to examine my former comfort, and to consider whether one that had
sinned as I had done, might with confidence trust upon the
faithfulness of God, laid down in those words, by which I had been
comforted, and on which I had leaned myself: but now were brought
those sayings to my mind. For it is impossible for those who were
once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were
made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of
God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away,
to renew them again unto repentance. Heb. vi. 4-6. For, if we sin
wilfully, after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there
remains no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking
for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the
adversaries. Heb. x. 26, 27. As Esau, who for one morsel of meat,
sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would
have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place
of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. Heb. xii.
16, 17.

197. Now was the word of the gospel forced from my soul; so that
no promise or encouragement was to be found in the Bible for me:
and now would that saying work upon my spirit to afflict me,
Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people. Hos. ix. 1. For
I saw indeed, there was cause of rejoicing for those that held to
Jesus; but for me, I had cut myself off by my transgressions, and
left myself neither foot-hold, or hand-hold, among all the stays
and props in the precious word of life.

198. And truly, I did now feel myself to sink into a gulph, as an
house whose foundation is destroyed; I did liken myself in this
condition, unto the case of some child that was fallen into a mill-
pit, who though it could make some shift to scramble and sprawl in
the water, yet because it could find neither hold for hand nor
foot, therefore at last it must die in that condition. So soon as
this fresh assault had fastened on my soul, that scripture came
into my heart, This for many days. Dan. x. 14. And indeed I found
it was so; for I could not be delivered, nor brought to peace
again, until well nigh two years and a half were completely
finished. Wherefore these words, though in themselves, they tended
to discouragement, yet to me, who feared this condition would be
eternal, they were at some times as an help and refreshment to me.

199. For, thought I, many days are not for ever, many days will
have an end; therefore seeing I was to be afflicted not a few but
many days, yet I was glad it was but for many days. Thus, I say, I
would recall myself sometimes, and give myself an help, for as soon
as ever the words came into my mind, at first, I knew my trouble
would be long, yet this would be but sometimes; for I could not
always think on this, nor ever be helped by it, though I did.

200. Now while the scriptures lay before me, and laid sin anew at
my door, that saying, in Luke xviii. 1, with others, did encourage
me to prayer: then the tempter laid again at me very sore,
suggesting, That neither the mercy of God, nor yet the blood of
Christ, did at all concern me, nor could they help me for my sin;
therefore it was but in vain to pray. Yet, thought I, I will pray.
But, said the tempter, your sin is unpardonable. Well, said I, I
will pray. 'Tis to no boot, said he. Yet said I, I will pray. So
I went to prayer to God; and while I was at prayer, I uttered words
to this effect: Lord, Satan tells me, that neither Thy mercy, nor
Christ's blood, is sufficient to save my soul: Lord, shall I
honour Thee most, by believing Thou wilt, and canst? or him, by
believing Thou neither wilt not nor canst? Lord, I would fain
honour Thee, by believing Thou wilt and canst.

201. And as I was thus before the Lord, that scripture fastened on
my heart (O man, great is thy faith), Matt. xv. 28, even as if one
had clapped me on the back, as I was on my knees before God: yet I
was not able to believe this, that this was a prayer of faith, till
almost six months after; for I could not think that I had faith, or
that there should be a word for me to act faith on; therefore I
should still be, as sticking in the jaws of desperation, and went
mourning up and down in a sad condition.

202. There was nothing now that I longed for more than to be put
out of doubt, as to this thing in question, and as I was vehemently
desiring to know, if there was indeed hope for me, these words came
rolling into my mind, 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? Hath God forgotten to be gracious?
Hath He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Ps. lxxvii. 7-9. And
all the while they run in my mind, methought I had still this as
the answer, 'Tis a question whether He hath or no: it may be He
hath not. Yea, the interrogatory seemed to me to carry in it a
sure affirmation that indeed He had not, nor would so cast off, but
would be favourable: that His promise doth not fail, and that He
had not forgotten to be gracious, nor would in anger shut up tender
mercy. Something also there was upon my heart at the same time,
which I cannot now call to mind, which, with this text, did sweeten
my heart, and make me conclude, that His mercy might not be quite
gone, nor clean gone for ever.

203. At another time I remembered, I was again much under this
question, Whether the blood of Christ was sufficient to save my
soul? in which doubt I continued from morning, till about seven or
eight at night: and at last, when I was, as it were, quite worn
out with fear, lest it should not lay hold on me, these words did
sound suddenly within my heart: He is able. But methought, this
word able, was spoke loud unto me; it showed a great word, it
seemed to be writ in great letters, and gave such a jostle to my
fear and doubt (I mean for the time it tarried with me, which was
about a day) as I never had from that, all my life, either before
or after. Heb. vii. 25.

204. But one morning as I was again at prayer, and trembling under
the fear of this, That no word of God could help me, that piece of
a sentence darted in upon me, My grace is sufficient. At this,
methought I felt some stay, as if there might be hopes. But, oh!
how good a thing it is for God to send His word! for, about a
fortnight before, I was looking on this very place, and then I
thought it could not come near my soul with comfort, therefore I
threw down my book in a pet: then I thought it was not large
enough for me; no, not large enough; but now it was as if it had
arms of grace so wide, that it could not only enclose me, but many
more such as I besides.

205. By these words I was sustained, yet not without exceeding
conflicts, for the space of seven or eight weeks; for my peace
would be in it, and out, sometimes twenty times a day; comfort now,
and trouble presently; peace now, and before I could go a furlong,
as full of fear and guilt as ever heart could hold. And this was
not only now and then, but my whole seven weeks' experience: for
this about the sufficiency of grace, and that of Esau's parting
with his birthright, would be like a pair of scales within my mind;
sometimes one end would be uppermost, and sometimes again the
other; according to which would be my peace or trouble.

206. Therefore I did still pray to God, that He would come in with
this scripture more fully on my heart; to wit, that He would help
me to apply the whole sentence, for as yet I could not: that He
gave, that I gathered; but farther I could not go, for as yet it
only helped me to hope there might be mercy for me; My grace is
sufficient: And though it came no farther, it answered my former
question, to wit, That there was hope; yet because for thee was
left out, I was not contented, but prayed to God for that also.
Wherefore, one day, when I was in a meeting of God's people, full
of sadness and terror; for my fears again were strong upon me; and,
as I was now thinking, my soul was never the better, but my case
most sad and fearful, these words did with great power suddenly
break in upon me; My grace is sufficient for thee, My grace is
sufficient for thee, My grace is sufficient for thee, three times
together: And oh! methought that every word was a mighty word unto
me; as My, and grace, and sufficient, and for thee; they were then,
and sometimes are still, far bigger than others be.

207. At which time my understanding was so enlightened, that I was
as though I had seen the Lord Jesus look down from heaven, through
the tiles upon me, and direct these words unto me. This sent me
mourning home; it broke my heart, and filled me full of joy, and
laid me low as the dust; only it stayed not long with me, I mean in
this glory and refreshing comfort; yet it continued with me for
several weeks, and did encourage me to hope: but as soon as that
powerful operation of it was taken from my heart, that other, about
Esau, returned upon me as before: so my soul did hang as in a pair
of scales again, sometimes up, and sometimes down; now in peace,
and anon again in terror.

208. Thus I went on for many weeks, sometimes comforted, and
sometimes tormented; and especially at sometimes my torment would
be very sore, for all those scriptures forenamed in the Hebrews,
would be set before me, as the only sentences that would keep me
out of heaven. Then again I would begin to repent that ever that
thought went through me; I would also think thus with myself: Why,
how many scriptures are there against me? There are but three or
four; And cannot God miss them, and save me for all them?
Sometimes again I would think, Oh! if it were not for these three
or four words, now how might I be comforted! And I could hardly
forbear at some times, to wish them out of the book.

209. Then methought I should see as if both Peter and Paul, and
John, and all the writers, did look with scorn upon me, and hold me
in derision; and as if they had said unto me, All our words are
truth, one of as much force as another: it is not we that have cut
you of, but you have cast away yourself. There is none of our
sentences that you must take hold upon, but these and such as
these; it is impossible, Heb. vi.; there remains no more sacrifice
for sin, Heb. x. And it had been better for them not to have known
the will of God, than after they had known it, to turn from the
holy commandment delivered unto them, 2 Peter ii. 21. For the
Scriptures cannot be broken. John x. 35.

210. These, as the elders of the city of refuge, I saw, were to be
judges both of my case and me, while I stood with the avenger of
blood at my heels, trembling at their gate for deliverance; also
with a thousand fears and mistrusts, I doubted that they would shut
me out for ever. Joshua xx. 3. 4.

211. Thus I was confounded, not knowing what to do, or how to be
satisfied in this question, Whether the scriptures could agree in
the salvation of my soul? I quaked at the apostles; I knew their
words were true, and that they must stand for ever.

212. And I remember one day, as I was in divers frames of spirit,
and considering that these frames were according to the nature of
several scriptures that came in upon my mind; if this of grace,
then was I quiet; but of that of Esau, then tormented. Lord,
thought I, if both these scriptures should meet in my heart at
once, I wonder which of them would get the better of me. So
methought I had a longing mind that they might come both together
upon me; yea, I desired of God they might.

213. Well, about two or three days after, so they did indeed; they
bolted both upon me at a time, and did work and struggle strangely
in me for a while; at last that about Esau's birthright began to
wax weak, and withdraw, and vanish; and this, about the sufficiency
of grace prevailed with peace and joy. And as I was in a muse
about this thing, that scripture came in upon me, Mercy rejoiceth
against judgment. James ii. 13.

214. This was a wonderment to me; yet truly, I am apt to think it
was of God; for the word of the law and wrath, must give place to
the word of life and grace; because, though the word of
condemnation be glorious, yet the word of life and salvation doth
far exceed in glory. 2 Cor. iii. 8-11. Mark ix. 5-7. John vi.
37. Also that Moses and Elias must both vanish, and leave Christ
and His saints alone.

215. This scripture also did now most sweetly visit my soul; And
him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out. Oh! the comfort
that I had from this word, in no wise! As who should say, By no
means, for nothing whatever he hath done. But Satan would greatly
labour to pull this promise from me, telling of me, That Christ did
not mean me and such as I, but sinners of a lower rank, that had
not done as I had done. But I would answer him again, Satan, here
is in these words no such exception; but him that comes, him, any
him: him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. And this I
well remember still, that of all the slights that Satan used to
take this scripture from me, yet he never did so much as put this
question, But do you come aright? And I have thought the reason
was, because he thought I knew full well what coming aright was;
for I saw that to come aright, was to come as I was, a vile and
ungodly sinner, and to cast myself at the feet of mercy, condemning
myself for sin. If ever Satan and I did strive for any word of God
in all my life, it was for this good word of Christ; he at one end,
and I at the other: Oh! what work did we make! It was for this in
John, I say, that we did so tug and strive, he pulled, and I
pulled; but God be praised, I got the better of him; I got some
sweetness from it.

216. But notwithstanding all these helps, and blessed words of
grace, yet that of Esau's selling of his birthright, would still at
times distress my conscience: for though I had been most sweetly
comforted, and that but just before, yet when that came into my
mind, 'twould make me fear again: I could not be quite rid
thereof, 'twould every day be with me: wherefore now I went
another way to work, even to consider the nature of this
blasphemous thought, I mean, if I should take the words at the
largest, and give them their own natural force and scope, even
every word therein: so when I had thus considered, I found, that
if they were fairly taken, they would amount to this; That I had
freely left the Lord Jesus Christ to His choice, whether He would
be my Saviour or no; for the wicked words were these, Let Him go,
if He will. Then that scripture gave me hope, I will never leave
thee, nor forsake thee. Heb. xiii. 5. 'O Lord,' said I, but I
have left Thee. Then it answered again, But I will not leave thee.
For this I thanked God also.

217. Yet I was grievous afraid He should, and found it exceeding
hard to trust Him, seeing I had so offended Him: I could have been
exceeding glad that this thought had never befallen; for then I
thought I could with more ease and freedom in abundance, have
leaned on His grace. I saw it was with me, as it was with Joseph's
brethren; the guilt of their own wickedness did often fill them
with fears that their brother would at last despise them. Gen. l.
15, 16, etc.

218. Yet above all the scriptures that I yet did meet with that in
Joshua xx. was the greatest comfort to me, which speaks of the
slayer that was to flee for refuge: And if the avenger of blood
pursue the slayer, then saith Moses, they that are the elders of
the city of refuge shall not deliver him into his hands, because he
smote his neighbour unwittingly and hated him not aforetime. Oh!
blessed be God for this word: I was convinced that I was the
slayer; and that the avenger of blood pursued me, I felt with great
terror; only now it remained that I inquire whether I have right to
enter the city of refuge: so I found, that he must not, who lay in
wait to shed blood: It was not the wilful murderer, but he who
unwittingly did it, he who did it unawares; not out of spite, or
grudge, or malice, he that shed it unwittingly: even he who did
not hate his neighbour before. Wherefore,

219. I thought verily I was the man that must enter, because I had
smitten my neighbour unwittingly, and hated Him not aforetime. I
hated Him not aforetime; no, I prayed unto Him, was tender of
sinning against Him; yea, and against this wicked temptation I had
strove for a twelvemonth before; yea, and also when it did pass
through my heart, it did in spite of my teeth: wherefore I thought
I had a right to enter this city, and the elders, which are the
apostles, were not to deliver me up. This therefore was great
comfort to me, and gave me much ground of hope.

220. Yet being very critical, for my smart had made me that I knew
not what ground was sure enough to bear me, I had one question that
my soul did much desire to be resolved about; and that was, Whether
it be possible for any soul that hath sinned the unpardonable sin,
yet after that to receive, though but the least, true spiritual
comfort from God though Christ? The which after I had much
considered, I found the answer was, No, they could not; and that
for these reasons:-

221. First, Because those that have sinned that sin, they are
debarred a share in the blood of Christ; and being shut out of
that, they must needs be void of the least ground of hope, and so
of spiritual comfort; For to such there remains no more sacrifice
for sin. Heb. x. 26, 27. Secondly, Because they are denied a
share in the promise of life: It shall never be forgiven him
neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Matt. xii.
32. Thirdly, The Son of God excludes them also from a share in His
blessed intercession, being for ever ashamed to own them, both
before His holy Father, and the blessed angels in heaven. Mark

222. When I had with much deliberation considered of this matter,
and could not but conclude that the Lord had comforted me, and that
too after this my wicked sin: then methought I durst venture to
come nigh unto those most fearful and terrible scriptures, with
which all this while I had been so greatly affrighted, and on which
indeed, before I durst scarce cast mine eye (yea, had much ado an
hundred times, to forbear wishing them out of the Bible), for I
thought they would destroy me; but now, I say, I began to take some
measure of encouragement, to come close to them to read them, and
consider them, and to weigh their scope and tendency.

223. The which when I began to do, I found their visage changed:
for they looked not so grimly, as before I thought they did: and
first I came to the sixth of the Hebrews, yet trembling for fear it
should strike me; which when I had considered, I found that the
falling there intended, was a falling quite away; that is as I
conceived, a falling from and absolute denying of the gospel, of
remission of sins by Jesus Christ; for, from them the apostle
begins his argument, verses 1, 2, 3, 4. Secondly, I found that
this falling away, must be openly, even in the view of the world,
even so as to put Christ to an open shame. Thirdly, I found those
he there intended, were for ever shut up of God, both in blindness,
hardness, and impenitency: It is impossible they should be renewed
again unto repentance. By all these particulars, I found to God's
everlasting praise, my sin was not the sin in this place intended.

First, I confessed I was fallen, but not fallen away; that is, from
the profession of faith in Jesus unto eternal life.

Secondly, I confessed that I had put Jesus Christ to shame by my
sin, but not to open shame; I did not deny Him before men, nor
condemn Him as a fruitless One before the world.

Thirdly, Nor did I find that God had shut me up, or denied me to
come (though I found it hard work indeed to come) to Him by sorrow
and repentance: blessed be God for unsearchable grace!

224. Then I considered that in the 10th chapter of the Hebrews,
and found that the wilful sin there mentioned, is not every wilful
sin, but that which doth throw off Christ, and then His
commandments too. Secondly, That must be done also openly, before
two or three witnesses, to answer that of the law, verse 28.
Thirdly, This sin cannot be committed, but with great despite done
to the Spirit of Grace; despising both the dissuasions from that
sin, and the persuasions to the contrary. But the Lord knows,
though this my sin was devilish, yet it did not amount to these.

225. And as touching that in the 12th of the Hebrews, about Esau's
selling of his birthright; though this was that which killed me,
and stood like a spear against me, yet now I did consider, First,
that his was not a hasty thought against the continual labour of
his mind, but a thought consented to, and put in practice likewise,
and that after some deliberation, Gen. xxv. Secondly, It was a
public and open action, even before his brother, if not before many
more; this made his sin of a far more heinous nature than otherwise
it would have been. Thirdly, He continued to slight his
birthright: He did eat and drink, and went his way: thus Esau
despised his birthright, yea, twenty years after he was found to
despise it still. And Esau said, I have enough, my brother, keep
that thou hast unto thyself. Gen. xxxiii. 9.

226. Now as touching this, that Esau sought a place of repentance;
thus I thought: First, This was not for the birthright, but the
blessing: this is clear from the apostle, and is distinguished by
Esau himself; He took away my birthright (that is, formerly); and
behold now he hath taken away my blessing. Gen. xxvii. 36.
Secondly, Now, this being thus considered, I came again to the
apostle, to see what might be the mind of God, in a New-Testament
style and sense concerning Esau's sin; and so far as I could
conceive, this was the mind of God, that the birthright signified
regeneration, and the blessing, the eternal inheritance; for so the
apostle seems to hint. Lest there be any profane person, as Esau,
who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright; as if he should
say, That shall cast off all those blessed beginnings of God, that
at present are upon him, in order to a new-birth; lest they become
as Esau, even be rejected afterwards, when they would inherit the

227. For many there are, who, in the day of grace and mercy,
despise those things which are indeed the birthright to heaven, who
yet when the deciding day appears, will cry as lord as Esau, Lord,
Lord, open to us; but then, as Isaac would not repent, no more will
God the Father, but will say, I have blessed these, yea, and they
shall be blessed; but as for you, Depart, you are the workers of
iniquity. Gen. xxvii. 32; Luke xiii. 25-27.

228. When I had thus considered these scriptures, and found that
thus to understand them, was not against, but according to other
scriptures; this still added further to my encouragement and
comfort, and also gave a great blow to that objection, to wit, That
the scriptures could not agree in the salvation of my soul. And
now remained only the hinder part of the tempest, for the thunder
was gone beyond me, only some drops did still remain, that now and
then would fall upon me; but because my former frights and anguish
were very sore and deep, therefore it oft befall me still, as it
befalleth those that have been scared with fire. I thought every
voice was, Fire! fire! Every little touch would hurt my tender

229. But one day, as I was passing in the field, and that too with
some dashes on my conscience, fearing lest yet all was not right,
suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, Thy righteousness is in
heaven; and methought withal, I saw with the eyes of my soul, Jesus
Christ at God's right hand: there, I say, was my righteousness; so
that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of
me, He wants My righteousness; for that was just before Him. I
also saw moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made
my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my
righteousness worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself,
The same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Heb. xiii. 8.

230. Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed; I was loosed from
my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that
from that time those dreadful scriptures of God left off to trouble
me: now went I also home rejoicing, for the grace and love of God;
so when I came home, I looked to see if I could find that sentence;
Thy righteousness is in heaven, but could not find such a saying;
wherefore my heart began to sink again, only that was brought to my
remembrance, 1 Cor. i. 30, Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us
wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; by
this word I saw the other sentence true.

231. For by this scripture I saw that the Man Christ Jesus, as He
is distinct from us, as touching His bodily presence, so He is our
righteousness and sanctification before God. Here therefore I
lived, for some time, very sweetly at peace with God through
Christ; Oh! methought, Christ! Christ! there was nothing but Christ
that was before my eyes: I was not now (only) for looking upon
this and the other benefits of Christ apart, as of His blood,
burial, or resurrection, but considering Him as a whole Christ! as
He in whom all these, and all His other virtues, relations, offices
and operations met together, and that He sat on the right hand of
God in heaven.

232. 'Twas glorious to me to see His exaltation, and the worth and
prevalency of all His benefits, and that because now I could look
from myself to Him and should reckon, that all those graces of God
that now were green on me, were yet but like those cracked groats
and fourpence-halfpennies that rich men carry in their purses, when
their gold is in their trunks at home: Oh! I saw my gold was in my
trunk at home! In Christ my Lord and Saviour. Now Christ was all;
all my wisdom, all my righteousness, all my sanctification, and all
my redemption.

233. Further, the Lord did also lead me into the mystery of union
with the Son of God; that I was joined to Him, that I was flesh of
His flesh, and bone of His bone; and now was that word sweet to me
in Eph. v. 30. By this also was my faith in Him, as my
righteousness, the more confirmed in me; for if He and I were one,
then His righteousness was mine, His merits mine, His victory also
mine. Now could I see myself in heaven and earth at once: in
heaven by my Christ, by my head, by my righteousness and life,
though on earth by my body or person.

234. Now I saw Christ Jesus was looked upon of God; and should
also be looked upon by us, as that common or public person, in whom
all the whole body of His elect are always to be considered and
reckoned; that we fulfilled the law by Him, died by Him, rose from
the dead by Him, got the victory over sin, death, the devil, and
hell, by Him; when He died, we died, and so of His resurrection.
Thy dead men shall live, together with My dead body shall they
arise, saith He. Isa. xxvi. 19. And again, after two days He will
revive us, and the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live
in His sight. Hosea vi. 2. Which is now fulfilled by the sitting
down of the Son of Man on the right hand of the Majesty in the
heavens; according to that to the Ephesians, And hath raised us up
together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ
Jesus. Eph. ii. 6.

235. Ah! these blessed considerations and scriptures, with many
others of like nature, were in those days made to spangle in mine
eyes; so that I have cause to say, Praise ye the Lord. Praise God
in His sanctuary, praise Him in the firmament of His power; praise
Him for His mighty acts: praise Him according to His excellent
greatness. Psalm cl. 1, 2.

236. Having thus in a few words given you a taste of the sorrow
and affliction that my soul went under, by the guilt and terror
that this my wicked thought did lay me under; and having given you
also a touch of my deliverance therefrom, and of the sweet and
blessed comfort that I met with afterwards, which comfort dwelt
about a twelvemonth with my heart, to my unspeakable admiration: I
will now (God willing), before I proceed any farther, give you in a
word or two, what, as I conceive, was the cause of this temptation;
and also after that, what advantage, at the last, it became unto my

237. For the causes, I conceived they were principally two: of
which two also I was deeply convinced all the time this trouble lay
upon me. The first was, for that I did not, when I was delivered
from the temptation that went before, still pray to God to to keep
me from the temptations that were to come; for though, as I can say
in truth, my soul was much in prayer before this trial seized me,
yet then I prayed only, or at the most principally, for the removal
of present troubles, and for fresh discoveries of His love in
Christ, which I saw afterwards was not enough to do; I also should
have prayed that the great God would keep me from the evil that was
to come.

238. Of this I was made deeply sensible by the prayer of holy
David, who when he was under present mercy, yet prayed that God
would hold him back from sin and temptation to come; Then, saith
he, shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great
transgression. Psalm xix. 13. By this very word was I galled and
condemned quite through this long temptation.

239. That was also another word that did much condemn me for my
folly, in the neglect of this duty. Heb. iv. 16: Let us therefore
come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and
find grace to help in time of need. This I had not done, and
therefore was thus suffered to sin and fall, according to what is
written, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And truly this
very thing is to this day of such weight and awe upon me, that I
dare not, when I come before the Lord, go of my knees, until I
intreat Him for help and mercy against the temptations that are to
come; and I do beseech thee, reader, that thou learn to beware of
my negligence, by the afflictions, that for this thing I did for
days, and months, and years, with sorrow undergo.

240. Another cause of this temptation was, that I had tempted God;
and on this manner did I do it: Upon a time my wife was great with
child, and before her full time was come, her pangs, as of a woman
in travail, were fierce and strong upon her, even as if she would
have fallen immediately in labour, and been delivered of an
untimely birth: now at this very time it was, that I had been so
strongly tempted to question the being of God; wherefore, as my
wife lay crying by me, I said, but with all secrecy imaginable,
even thinking in my heart, Lord, if Thou wilt now remove this sad
affliction from my wife, and cause that she be troubled no more
therewith this night (and now were her pangs just upon her), then I
shall know that Thou canst discern the most secret thoughts of the

241. I had no sooner said it in my heart, but her pangs were taken
from her, and she was cast into a deep sleep, and so continued till
morning; at this I greatly marvelled, not knowing what to think;
but after I had been awake a good while, and heard her cry no more,
I fell asleep also; so when I awaked in the morning, it came upon
me again, even what I had said in my heart the last night, and how
the Lord had showed me, that He knew my secret thoughts, which was
a great astonishment unto me for several weeks after.

242. Well, about a year and a half afterwards, that wicked sinful
thought, of which I have spoken before, went through my wicked
heart, even this thought, Let Christ go, if He will: so when I was
fallen under the guilt for this, the remembrance of my other
thought, and of the effect thereof, would also come upon me with
this retort, which also carried rebuke along with it, Now you may
see that God doth know the most secret thoughts of the heart.

243. And with this, that of the passages that were betwixt the
Lord, and His servant Gideon, fell upon my spirit; how because that
Gideon tempted God with his fleece, both wet and dry, when he
should have believed and ventured upon His word; therefore the Lord
did afterwards so try him, as to send him against an innumerable
company of enemies, and that too, as to outward appearance, without
any strength or help. Judges vi. 7. Thus He served me, and that
justly, for I should have believed His word, and not have put an if
upon the all-seeingness of God.

244. And now to show you something of the advantages that I also
have gained by this temptation: and first, by this I was made
continually to possess in my soul a very wonderful sense both of
the blessing and glory of God, and of His beloved Son; in the
temptation that went before, my soul was perplexed with unbelief,
blasphemy, hardness of heart, questions about the being of God,
Christ, the truth of the word, and certainty of the world to come:
I say, then I was greatly assaulted and tormented with atheism, but
now the case was otherwise; now was God and Christ continually
before my face, though not in a way of comfort, but in a way of
exceeding dread and terror. The glory of the holiness of God, did
at this time break me to pieces; and the bowels and compassion of
Christ did break me as on the wheel; for I could not consider Him
but as a lost and rejected Christ, the remembrance of which, was as
the continual breaking of my bones.

245. The scriptures also were wonderful things unto me; I saw that
the truth and verity of them were the keys of the kingdom of
heaven; those that the scriptures favour, they must inherit bliss;
but those that they oppose and condemn, must perish for evermore:
Oh! this word, For the scriptures cannot be broken, would rend the
caul of my heart: and so would that other, Whose sins ye remit,
they are remitted; but whose sins ye retain, they are retained.
Now I saw the apostles to be the elders of the city of refuge.
Joshua xx. 4. Those that they were to receive in, were received to
life; but those that they shut out, were to be slain by the avenger
of blood.

246. Oh! one sentence of the scripture did more afflict and
terrify my mind, I mean those sentences that stood against me (as
sometimes I thought they every one did) more, I say, than an army
of forty thousand men that might have come against me. Woe be to
him against whom the scriptures bend themselves!

247. By this temptation I was made to see more into the nature of
the promises than ever I was before; for I lying now trembling
under the mighty hand of God, continually torn and rent by the
thundering of His justice: this made me with careful heart, and
watchful eye, with great fearfulness to turn over every leaf, and
with much diligence, mixed with trembling, to consider every
sentence, together with its natural force and latitude.

248. By this temptation also I was greatly holden off from my
former foolish practice of putting by the word of promise when saw
it came into my mind; for now, though I could not suck that comfort
and sweetness from the promise, as I had done at other times; yet,
like to a man sinking, I would catch at all I saw: formerly I
thought I might not meddle with the promise, unless I felt its
comfort, but now 'twas no time thus to do; the avenger of blood too
hardly did pursue me.

249. Now therefore I was glad to catch at that word which yet I
feared I had no ground or right to own; and even to leap into the
bosom of that promise that yet I feared did shut its heart against
me. Now also I should labour to take the word as God hath laid it
down, without restraining the natural force of one syllable
thereof: O! what did I now see in that blessed sixth of John: And
him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out. John vi. 37.
Now I began to consider with myself, that God hath a bigger mouth
to speak with, than I had a heart to conceive with; I thought also
with myself, that He spake not His words in haste, or in an
unadvised heat, but with infinite wisdom and judgment, and in very
truth and faithfulness. 2 Sam. iii. 28.

250. I should in these days, often in my greatest agonies, even
flounce towards the promise (as the horses do towards sound ground,
that yet stick in the mire); concluding (though as one almost
bereft of his wits through fear) on this I will rest and stay, and
leave the fulfilling of it to the God of heaven that made it. Oh!
many a pull hath my heart had with Satan, for that blessed sixth of
John: I did not now, as at other times, look principally for
comfort (though, O how welcome would it have been unto me!). But
now a word, a word to lean a weary soul upon, that it might not
sink for ever! 'twas that I hunted for.

251. Yea, often when I have been making to the promise, I have
seen as if the Lord would refuse my soul for ever; I was often as
if I had run upon the pikes, and as if the Lord had thrust at me,
to keep me from Him, as with a flaming sword. Then I should think
of Esther, who went to petition the king contrary to the law.
Esther iv. 16. I thought also of Benhadad's servants, who went
with ropes upon their heads to their enemies for mercy. 1 Kings
xx. 31, etc. The woman of Canaan also, that would not be daunted,
though called dog by Christ, Matt. xv., 22, etc., and the man that
went to borrow bread at midnight, Luke xi. 5-8, etc., were great
encouragements unto me.

252. I never saw those heights and depths in grace, and love, and
mercy, as I saw after this temptation; great sins to draw out great
grace; and where guilt is most terrible and fierce, there the mercy
of God in Christ, when showed to the soul, appears most high and
mighty. When Job had passed through his captivity, he had twice as
much as he had before. Job xlii. 10. Blessed be God for Jesus
Christ our Lord. Many other things I might here make observation
of, but I would be brief, and therefore shall at this time omit
them; and do pray God that my harms may make others fear to offend,
lest they also be made to bear the iron yoke as I did.

I had two or three times, at or about my deliverance from this
temptation, such strange apprehensions of the grace of God, that I
could hardly bear up under it: it was so out of measure amazing,
when I thought it could reach me, that I do think if that sense of
it had abode long upon me, it would have made me incapable for

253. Now I shall go forward to give you a relation of other of the
Lord's dealings with me at sundry other seasons, and of the
temptations I then did meet withal. I shall begin with what I met
with when first I did join in fellowship with the people of God in
Bedford. After I had propounded to the church, that my desire was
to walk in the order and ordinances of Christ with them, and was
also admitted by them: while I thought of that blessed ordinance
of Christ, which was His last supper with His disciples before His
death, that scripture, Do this in remembrance of Me, Luke xxii. 19,
was made a very precious word unto me; for by it the Lord did come
down upon my conscience with the discovery of His death for my
sins; and as I then felt, did as if He plunged me in the virtue of
the same. But behold, I had not been long a partaker at that
ordinance, but such fierce and sad temptations did attend me at all
times therein, both to blaspheme the ordinance, and to wish some
deadly thing to those that then did eat thereof: that lest I
should at any time be guilty of consenting to these wicked and
fearful thoughts, I was forced to bend myself all the while, to
pray to God to keep me from such blasphemies: and also to cry to
God to bless the bread and cup to them, as it went from mouth to
mouth. The reason of this temptation, I have thought since, was,
because I did not with that reverence that became me at first,
approach to partake thereof.

254. Thus I continued for three quarters of a year, and could
never have rest nor ease: but at the last the Lord came in upon my
soul with that same scripture, by which my soul was visited before:
and after that, I have been usually very well and comfortable in
the partaking of that blessed ordinance; and have, I trust, therein
discerned the Lord's body, as broken for my sins, and that His
precious blood hath been shed for my transgressions.

255. Upon a time I was something inclining to a consumption,
wherewith about the spring I was suddenly and violently seized,
with much weakness in my outward man; insomuch that I thought I
could not live. Now began I afresh to give myself up to a serious
examination after my state and condition for the future, and of my
evidences for that blessed world to come: for it hath, I bless the
name of God, been my usual course, as always, so especially in the
day of affliction, to endeavour to keep my interest in the life to
come, clear before mine eyes.

256. But I had no sooner began to recall to mind my former
experience of the goodness of God to my soul, but there came
flocking into my mind an innumerable company of my sins and
transgressions; amongst which these were at this time most to my
affliction; namely, my deadness, dulness, and coldness in holy
duties; my wanderings of heart, of my wearisomeness in all good
things, my want of love to God, His ways and people, with this at
the end of all, Are these the fruits of Christianity? Are these
tokens of a blessed man?

257. At the apprehensions of these things my sickness was doubled
upon me; for now I was sick in my inward man, my soul was clogged
with guilt; now also was my former experience of God's goodness to
me, quite taken out of my mind, and hid as if they had never been,
or seen: now was my soul greatly pinched between these two
considerations, Live I must not, die I dare not. Now I sunk and
fell in my spirit, and was giving up all for lost; but as I was
walking up and down in the house as a man in a most woeful state,
that word of God took hold of my heart, Ye are justified freely by
His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Rom.
iii. 24. But oh! what a turn it made upon me!

258. Now was I as one awaked out of some troublesome sleep and
dream; and listening to this heavenly sentence, I was as if I had
heard it thus expounded to me: Sinner, thou thinkest, that because
thy sins and infirmities, I cannot save thy soul; but behold My Son
is by me, and upon Him I look, and not on thee, and shall deal with
thee according as I am pleased with Him. At this I was greatly
lightened in my mind, and made to understand, that God could
justify a sinner at any time; it was but His looking upon Christ,
and imputing His benefits to us, and the work was forthwith done.

259. And as I was thus in a muse, that scripture also came with
great power upon my spirit, Not by works of righteousness that we
have done, but according to His mercy He hath saved us, etc. 2
Tim. i. 9; Tit. iii. 5. Now was I got on high, I saw myself within
the arms of grace and mercy; and though I was before afraid to
think of a dying hour, yet, now I cried, Let me die: Now death was
lovely and beautiful in my sight, for I saw We shall never live
indeed, till we be gone to the other world. Oh! methought this
life is but a slumber, in comparison with that above. At this time
also I saw more in these words, Heirs of God, Rom. viii. 17, than
ever I shall be able to express while I live in this world: Heirs
of God! God Himself is the portion of the saints. This I saw and
wondered at, but cannot tell you what I saw.

260. Again, as I was at another time very ill and weak, all that
time also the tempter did beset me strongly (for I find he is much
for assaulting the soul; when it begins to approach towards the
grave, then is his opportunity), labouring to hide from me my
former experience of God's goodness: also setting before me the
terrors of death, and the judgment of God, insomuch that at this
time, through my fear of miscarrying for ever (should I now die), I
was as one dead before death came, and was as if I had felt myself
already descending into the pit; methought I said, There were no
way, but to hell I must: but behold, just as I was in the midst of
those fears, these words of the angel's carrying Lazarus into
Abraham's bosom darted in upon me, as who should say, So it shall
be with thee when thou dost leave this world. This did sweetly
revive my spirit, and help me to hope in God; which when I had with
comfort mused on a while, that word fell with great weight upon my
mind, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
1 Cor. xv. 55. At this I became both well in body and mind at
once, for my sickness did presently vanish, and I walked
comfortably in my work for God again.

261. At another time, though just before I was pretty well and
savoury in my spirit, yet suddenly there fell upon me a great cloud
of darkness, which did so hide from me the things of God and
Christ, that I was as if I had never seen or known them in my life:
I was also so over-run in my soul with a senseless heartless frame
of spirit, that I could not feel my soul to move or stir after
grace and life by Christ; I was as if my loins were broken, or as
if my hands and feet had been tied or bound with chains. At this
time also I felt some weakness to seize upon my outward man, which
made still the other affliction the more heavy and uncomfortable to

262. After I had been in this condition some three or four days,
as I was sitting by the fire, I suddenly felt this word to sound in
my heart, I must go to Jesus. At this my former darkness and
atheism fled away, and the blessed things of heaven were set in my
view. While I was on this sudden thus overtaken with surprise,
Wife (said I), is there ever such a scripture, I must go to Jesus?
She said, she could not tell; therefore I sat musing still, to see
if I could remember such a place: I had not sat above two or three
minutes, but that came bolting in upon me, And to an innumerable
company of angels; and withal, Hebrews twelfth, about the mount
Sion, was set before mine eyes. Heb. xii. 22-24.

263. Then with joy I told my wife, O! now I know, I know! But
that night was a good night to me, I never had but few better; I
longed for the company of some of God's people, that I might have
imparted unto them what God had showed me. Christ was a precious
Christ to my soul that night; I could scarce lie in my bed for joy,
and peace, and triumph, through Christ. This great glory did not
continue upon me until morning, yet the twelfth of the Author to
the Hebrews, Heb. xii. 22, 23, was a blessed scripture to me for
many days together after this.

264. The words are these: Ye are come to mount Sion, and unto the
city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an
innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church
of the first-born, which are written in heaven; and to God the
Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to
Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of
sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. Through
this blessed sentence the Lord led me over and over, first to this
word, and then to that; and showed me wonderful glory in every one
of them. These words also have oft since that time, been great
refreshment to my spirit. Blessed be God for having mercy on me.

A brief Account of the Author's Call to the Work of the Ministry

265. And now I am speaking my experience, I will in this place
thrust in a word or two concerning my preaching the word, and of
God's dealing with me in that particular also. For after I had
been about five or six years awakened, and helped myself to see
both the want and worth of Jesus Christ our Lord, and also enabled
to venture my soul upon Him; some of the most able among the saints
with us, I say, the most able for judgment and holiness of life, as
they conceived, did perceive that God had counted me worth to
understand something of His will in His holy and blessed word, and
had given me utterance in some measure, to express what I saw to
others, for edification; therefore they desired me, and that with
much earnestness, that I would be willing, at sometimes to take in
hand, in one of the meetings, to speak a word of exhortation unto

266. The which, though at the first it did much dash and abash my
spirit, yet being still by them desired and entreated, I consented
to their request, and did twice at two several assemblies (but in
private), though with much weakness and infirmity, discover my gift
amongst them; at which they not only seemed to be, but did solemnly
protest, as in the sight of the great God, they were both affected
and comforted; and gave thanks to the Father of mercies, for the
grace bestowed on me.

267. After this, sometimes, when some of them did go into the
country to teach, they would also that I should go with them;
where, though as yet, I did not nor durst not, make use of my gift
in an open way, yet more privately, still, as I came amongst the
good people in those places, I did sometimes speak a word of
admonition unto them also; the which they, as the other, received
with rejoicing at the mercy of God to me-ward, professing their
souls were edified thereby.

268. Wherefore, to be brief; at last, being still desired by the
church, after some solemn prayer to the Lord, with fasting, I was
more particularly called forth, and appointed to a more ordinary
and public preaching of the word, not only to and amongst them that
believed, but also to offer the gospel to those who had not yet
received the faith thereof; about which time I did evidently find
in my mind a secret pricking forward thereto; though I bless God,
not for desire of vain-glory; for at that time I was most sorely
afflicted with the fiery darts of the devil, concerning my eternal

269. But yet could not be content, unless I was found in the
exercise of my gift, unto which also I was greatly animated, not
only by the continual desires of the godly, but also by that saying
of Paul to the Corinthians: I beseech you, brethren (ye know the
household of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and
that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints)
that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth
with us, and laboureth. 1 Cor. xvi. 15, 16.

270. By this text I was made to see that the Holy Ghost never
intended that men who have gifts and abilities, should bury them in
the earth, but rather did command and stir up such to the exercise
of their gift, and also did commend those that were apt and ready
so to do. They have addicted themselves to the ministry of the
saints. This scripture, in these days, did continually run in my
mind, to encourage me, and strengthen me in this my work for God; I
have also been encouraged from several other scriptures and
examples of the godly, both specified in the word, and other
ancient histories: Acts viii. 4 and xviii. 24, 25, etc.; 1 Pet.
iv. 10; Rom. xii. 6; Fox's Acts and Mon.

271. Wherefore, though of myself of all the saints the most
unworthy; yet I, but with great fear and trembling at the sight of
my own weakness, did set upon the work, and did according to my
gift, and the proportion of my faith, preach that blessed gospel
that God had showed me in the holy word of truth: which when the
country understood, they came in to hear the word by hundreds, and
that from all parts, though upon sundry and divers accounts.

272. And I thank God, He gave unto me some measure of bowels and
pity for their souls, which also did put me forward to labour, with
great diligence and earnestness, to find out such a word as might,
if God would bless, lay hold of, and awaken the conscience; in
which also the good Lord had respect to the desire of His servant;
for I had not preached long, before some began to be touched, and
be greatly afflicted in their minds at the apprehension of the
greatness of their sin, and of their need of Jesus Christ.

273. But I first could not believe that God should speak by me to
the heart of any man, still counting myself unworthy; yet those who
thus were touched, would love me and have a particular respect for
me; and though I did put it from me, that they should be awakened
by me, still they would confess it, and affirm it before the saints
of God: they would also bless God for me (unworthy wretch that I
am!) and count me God's instrument that showed to them the way of

274. Wherefore seeing them in both their words and deeds to be so
constant, and also in their hearts so earnestly pressing after the
knowledge of Jesus Christ, rejoicing that ever God did send me
where they were; then I began to conclude it might be so, that God
had owned in His work such a foolish one as I; and then came that
word of God to my heart, with much sweet refreshment, The blessing
of him that was ready to perish, is come upon me; and I caused the
widow's heart to sing for joy. Job xxix. 13.

275. At this therefore I rejoiced; yea, the tears of those whom
God did awaken by my preaching, would be both solace and
encouragement to me: for I thought on those sayings, Who is He
then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by Me?
2 Cor. ii. 2. And again, If I be not an Apostle to others, yet
doubtless, I am unto you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye
in the Lord. 1 Cor. ix. 2. These things, therefore, were as
another argument unto me, that God had called me to, and stood by
me in this work.

276. In my preaching of the word, I took special notice of this
one thing, namely, that the Lord did lead me to begin where His
word begins with sinners; that is, to condemn all flesh, and to
open and allege, that the curse of God by the law, doth belong to,
and lay hold on all men as they come into the world, because of
sin. Now this part of my work I fulfilled with great sense; for
the terrors of the law, and guilt for my transgressions, lay heavy
on my conscience: I preached what I felt, what I smartingly did
feel; even that under which my poor soul did groan and tremble to

277. Indeed, I have been as one sent to them from the dead; I went
myself in chains, to preach to them in chains; and carried that
fire in my own conscience, that I persuaded them to be aware of. I
can truly say, and that without dissembling, that when I have been
to preach, I have gone full of guilt and terror, even to the pulpit
door, and there it hath been taken off, and I have been at liberty
in my mind until I have done my work; and then immediately, even
before I could get down the pulpit stairs, I have been as bad as I
was before; yet God carried me on, but surely with a strong hand,
for neither guilt nor hell could take me off my work.

278. Thus I went on for the space of two years, crying out against
men's sins, and their fearful state because of them. After which,
the Lord came in upon my own soul, with some staid peace and
comfort through Christ; for He did give me many sweet discoveries
of His blessed grace through Him; wherefore now I altered in my
preaching (for still I preached what I saw and felt); now therefore
I did much labour to hold forth Jesus Christ in all His offices,
relations, and benefits unto the world; and did strive also to
discover, to condemn, and remove those false supports and props on
which the world doth both lean, and by them fall and perish. On
these things also I staid as long as on the other.

279. After this, God led me into something of the mystery of the
union of Christ; wherefore that I discovered and showed to them
also. And, when I had travelled through these three chief points
of the word of God, about the space of five years or more, I was
caught in my present practice, and cast into prison, where I have
lain above as long again to confirm the truth by way of suffering,
as I was before in testifying of it according to the scriptures, in
a way of preaching.

280. When I have been in preaching, I thank God my heart hath
often all the time of this and the other exercise, with great
earnestness cried to God that He would make the word effectual to
the salvation of the soul; still being grieved lest the enemy
should take the word away from the conscience, and so it should
become unfruitful: wherefore I should labour to speak the word, as
that thereby, if it were possible, the sin and person guilty might
be particularized by it.

281. And when I have done the exercise, it hath gone to my heart,
to think the word should now fall as rain on stony places; still
wishing from my heart, Oh! that they who have heard me speak this
day, did but see as I do, what sin, death, hell, and the curse of
God is; and also what the grace, and love, and mercy of God is,
through Christ, to men in such a case as they are, who are yet
estranged from Him. And indeed, I did often say in my heart before
the Lord, That if to be hanged up presently before their eyes,
would be a means to awaken them, and confirm them in the truth, I
gladly should be contented.

282. For I have been in my preaching, especially when I have been
engaged in the doctrine of life by Christ, without works, as if an
angel of God had stood by at my back to encourage me: Oh! it hath
been with such power and heavenly evidence upon my own soul, while
I have been labouring to unfold it, to demonstrate it, and to
fasten it upon the conscience of others; that I could not be
contented with saying, I believe, and am sure; methought I was more
than sure (if it be lawful to express myself) that those things
which then I asserted, were true.

283. When I first went to preach the word abroad, the doctors and
priests of the country did open wide against me. But I was
persuaded of this, not to render railing for railing; but to see
how many of their carnal professors I could convince of their
miserable state by the law, and of the want and worth of Christ:
for, thought I, This shall answer for me in time to come, when they
shall be for my hire before their face. Gen. xxx. 33.

284. I never cared to meddle with things that were controverted,
and in dispute among the saints, especially things of the lowest
nature; yet it pleased me much to contend with great earnestness
for the word of faith, and the remission of sins by the death and
sufferings of Jesus: but I say, as to other things, I should let
them alone, because I saw they engendered strife; and because that
they neither in doing, nor in leaving undone, did commend us to God
to be His: besides, I saw my work before me did run into another
channel, even to carry an awakening word; to that therefore did I
stick and adhere.

285. I never endeavoured to, nor durst make use of other men's
lines, Rom. xv. 18 (though I condemn not all that do), for I verily
thought, and found by experience, that what was taught me by the
word and Spirit of Christ, could be spoken, maintained, and stood
to, by the soundest and best established conscience; and though I
will not now speak all that I know in this matter, yet my
experience hath more interest in that text of scripture, Gal. i.
11, 12, than many amongst men are aware.

286. If any of those who were awakened by my ministry, did after
that fall back (as sometimes too many did), I can truly say, their
loss hath been more to me, than if one of my own children, begotten
of my own body, had been going to its grave: I think verily, I may
speak it without any offence to the Lord, nothing has gone so near
me as that; unless it was the fear of the loss of the salvation of
my own soul. I have counted as if I had goodly buildings and
lordships in those places where my children were born; my heart
hath been so wrapped up in the glory of this excellent work, that I
counted myself more blessed and honoured of God by this, than if He
had made me the emperor of the Christian world, or the lord of all
the glory of the earth without it! Oh these words! He which
converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul
from death. James v. 20. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of
life; and he that winneth souls is wise. Prov. xi. 30. They that
be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they
that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.
Dan. xii. 3. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?
Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His
coming? For ye are our glory and joy. 1 Thes. ii. 19, 20. These,
I say, with many others of a like nature, have been great
refreshments to me.

287. I have observed, that where I have had a work to do for God,
I have had first, as it were, the going of God upon my spirit, to
desire I might preach there: I have also observed, that such and
such souls in particular, have been strongly set upon my heart, and
I stirred up to wish for their salvation; and that these very souls
have, after this, been given in as the fruits of my ministry. I
have observed, that a word cast in, by-the-bye, hath done more
execution in a sermon, than all that was spoken besides: sometimes
also, when I have thought I did no good, then I did the most of
all; and at other times, when I thought I should catch them, I have
fished for nothing.

288. I have also observed, that where there has been a work to do
upon sinners, there the devil hath begun to roar in the hearts and
by the mouths of his servants: yea, oftentimes, when the wicked
world hath raged most, there hath been souls awakened by the word:
I could instance particulars, but I forbear.

289. My great desire in my fulfilling my ministry was to get into
the darkest places of the country, even amongst those people that
were farthest off of profession; yet not because I could not endure
the light (for I feared not to show my gospel to any) but because I
found my spirit did lean most after awakening and converting work,
and the word that I carried did lean itself most that way also;
Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was
named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation. Rom. xv.

290. In my preaching I have really been in pain, and have, as it
were, travailed to bring forth children to God; neither could I be
satisfied unless some fruits did appear in my work. If I were
fruitless, it mattered not who commanded me: but if I were
fruitful, I cared not who did condemn. I have thought of that:
Lo! children are an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb
is His reward.--As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are
children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full
of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the
enemies in the gate. Psalm cxxvii. 3-5.

291. It pleased me nothing to see people drink in opinions, if
they seemed ignorant of Jesus Christ, and the worth of their own
salvation, sound conviction for sin, especially for unbelief, and a
heart set on fire to be saved by Christ, with strong breathings
after a truly sanctified soul: that it was that delighted me;
those were the souls I counted blessed.

292. But in this work, as in all other, I had my temptations
attending me, and that of divers kinds; as sometimes I should be
assaulted with great discouragement therein, fearing that I should
not be able to speak a word at all to edification; nay, that I
should not be able to speak sense unto the people; at which times I
should have such a strange faintness and strengthlessness seize
upon my body, that my legs have scarce been able to carry me to the
place of exercise.

293. Sometimes again when I have been preaching, I have been
violently assaulted with thoughts of blasphemy, and strongly
tempted to speak the words with my mouth before the congregation.
I have also at some times, even when I have begun to speak the word
with much clearness, evidence, and liberty of speech, yet been,
before the ending of that opportunity, so blinded and so estranged
from the things I have been speaking, and have been also so
straightened in my speech, as to utterance before the people, that
I have been as if I had not known, or remembered what I have been
about; or as if my head had been in a bag all the time of my

294. Again, when as sometimes I have been about to preach upon
some smart and searching portion of the word, I have found the
tempter suggest, What! will you preach this! This condemns
yourself; of this your own soul is guilty; wherefore preach not of
it at all; or if you do, yet so mince it, as to make way for your
own escape; lest instead of awakening others, you lay that guilt
upon your own soul, that you will never get from under.

295. But I thank the Lord, I have been kept from consenting to
these so horrid suggestions, and have rather, as Sampson, bowed
myself with all my might, to condemn sin and transgression,
wherever I found it; yea, though therein also I did bring guilt
upon my own conscience: Let me die (thought I), with the
Philistines, Judges xvi. 29, 30, rather than deal corruptly with
the blessed word of God. Thou that teachest another, teachest thou
not thyself? It is far better that thou do judge thyself, even by
preaching plainly unto others, than that thou, to save thyself,
imprison the truth in righteousness. Blessed be God for His help
also in this.

296. I have also, while found in this blessed work of Christ, been
often tempted to pride and liftings up of heart: and though I dare
not say, I have not been affected with this, yet truly the Lord of
His precious mercy, hath so carried it towards me, that for the
most part I have had but small joy to give way to such a thing:
for it hath been my every day's portion to be let into the evil of
my own heart, and still made to see such a multitude of corruptions
and infirmities therein, that it hath caused hanging down of the
head under all my gifts and attainments; I have felt this thorn in
the flesh, 2 Cor. xii. 8, 9, the very mercy of God to me.

297. I have also had, together with this, some notable place or
other of the word presented before me, which word hath contained in
it some sharp and piercing sentence concerning the perishing of the
soul, notwithstanding gifts and parts: as, for instance, that hath
been of great use to me: Though I speak with the tongues of men
and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass,
and a tinkling cymbal. 1 Cor. xiii. 1, 2.

298. A tinkling cymbal is an instrument of music, with which a
skilful player can make such melodious and heart-inflaming music,
that all who hear him play, can scarcely hold from dancing; and yet
behold the cymbal hath not life, neither comes the music from it,
but because of the art of him that plays therewith; so then the
instrument at last may come to nought and perish, though in times
past such music hath been made upon it.

299. Just thus I saw it was, and will be, with them who have
gifts, but want saving grace; they are in the hand of Christ, as
the cymbal in the hand of David: and as David could with the
cymbal make that mirth in the service of God, as to elevate the
hearts of the worshippers, so Christ can use these gifted men, as
with them to affect the souls of His people in His church; yet when
He hath done all, hang them by, as lifeless, though sounding

300. This consideration therefore, together with some others, were
for the most part, as a maul on the head of pride, and desire of
vain-glory. What, thought I, shall I be proud because I am a
sounding brass? Is it so much to be a fiddle? hath not the least
creature that hath life, more of God in it than these? Besides, I
knew 'twas love should never die, but these must cease and vanish:
so I concluded, a little grace, a little love, a little of the true
fear of God, is better than all the gifts: yea, and I am fully
convinced of it, that it is possible for souls that can scarce give
a man an answer, but with great confusion as to method; I say, it
is possible for them to have a thousand times more grace, and so to
be more in the love and favour of the Lord, than some who by the
virtue of the gift of knowledge, can deliver themselves like

301. Thus therefore I came to perceive that, though gifts in
themselves were good, to the thing for which they are designed, to
wit, the edification of others; yet empty, and without power to
save the soul of him that hath them, if they be alone: neither are
they, as so, any sign of a man's state to be happy, being only a
dispensation of God to some, of whose improvement, or non-
improvement, they must when a little love more is over, give an
account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

302. This showed me too, that gifts being alone, were dangerous,
not in themselves, but because of those evils that attend them that
have them, to wit, pride, desire of vain glory, self-conceit, etc.,
all which were easily blown up at the applause and commendation of
every unadvised Christian, to the endangering of a poor creature to
fall into the condemnation of the devil.

303. I saw therefore that he that hath gifts, had need be let into
a sight of the nature of them, to wit, that they come short of
making of him to be in a truly saved condition, lest he rest in
them, and so fall short of the grace of God.

304. He hath cause also to walk humbly with God and be little in
his own eyes, and to remember withal, that his gifts are not his
own, but the churches; and that by them he is made a servant to the
church; and he must also give at last an account of his stewardship
unto the Lord Jesus, and to give a good account will be a blessed

305. Let all men therefore prize a little with the fear of the
Lord (gifts indeed are desirable), but yet great grace and small
gifts are better than great gifts and no grace. It doth not say,
the Lord gives gifts and glory, but the Lord gives grace and glory;
and blessed is such an one, to whom the Lord gives grace, true
grace; for that is a certain forerunner of glory.

306. But when Satan perceived that his thus tempting and
assaulting of me, would not answer his design; to wit, to overthrow
the ministry, and make it ineffectual, as to the ends thereof:
then he tried another way, which was, to stir up the minds of the
ignorant and malicious to load me with slanders and reproaches:
now therefore I may say, that what the devil could devise, and his
instruments invent, was whirled up and down the country against me,
thinking, as I said, that by that means they should make my
ministry to be abandoned.

307. It began therefore to be rumoured up and down among the
people, that I was a witch, a Jesuit, a highwayman, and the like.

308. To all which, I shall only say, God knows that I am
innocent. But as for mine accusers, let them provide themselves to
meet me before the tribunal of the Son of God, there to answer for
all these things (with all the rest of their iniquities) unless God
shall give them repentance for them, for the which I pray with all
my heart.

309. But that which was reported with the boldest confidence, was,
that I had my misses, my whores, my bastards; yea, two wives at
once, and the like. Now these slanders (with the others) I glory
in, because but slanders, foolish or knavish lies, and falsehoods
cast upon me by the devil and his seed; and, should I not be dealt
with thus wickedly by the world, I should want one sign of a saint,
and a child of God. Blessed are ye (said the Lord Jesus) when men
shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of
evil against you falsely for My sake; rejoice and be exceeding
glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they
the prophets which were before you. Matt. iv. 11.

310. These things therefore, upon mine own account, trouble me
not; no, though they were twenty times more than they are. I have
a good conscience, and whereas they speak evil of me, as an evil-
doer, they shall be ashamed that falsely accuse my good
conversation in Christ.

311. So then, what shall I say to those who have thus bespattered
me? Shall I threaten them? Shall I chide them? Shall I flatter
them? Shall I entreat them to hold their tongues? No, not I.
Were it not for that these things make them ripe for damnation,
that are the authors and abettors, I would say unto them, Report
it, because 'twill increase my glory.

312. Therefore I bind these lies and slanders to me as an
ornament; it belongs to my Christian profession to be vilified,
slandered, reproached and reviled; and since all this is nothing
else, as my God and my conscience do bear me witness, I rejoice in
reproaches for Christ's sake.

313. I also call all these fools or knaves, that have thus made it
any thing of their business to affirm any of the things afore-named
of me; namely, That I have been naught with other women, or the
like. When they have used the utmost of their endeavours, and made
the fullest inquiry that they can, to prove against me truly, that
there is any woman in heaven, or earth, or hell, that can say, I
have at any time, in any place, by day or night, so much as
attempted to be naught with them; and speak I thus to beg my
enemies into a good esteem of me? No, not I: I will in this beg
belief of no man: believe or disbelieve me in this, all is a-case
to me.

314. My foes have missed their mark in this shooting at me: I am
not the man: I wish that they themselves be guiltless. If all the
fornicators and adulterers in England were hanged up by the neck
till they be dead, John Bunyan, the object of their envy, would be
still alive and well. I know not whether there be such a thing as
a woman breathing under the copes of the whole heaven, but by their
apparel, their children, or by common fame, except my wife.

315. And in this I admire the wisdom of God, that He made me shy
of women from my first conversion until now. Those shy of women
know, and can also bear me witness, with whom I have been most
intimately concerned, that it is a rare thing to see me carry it
pleasant towards a woman: the common salutation of women I abhor;
'tis odious to me in whomsoever I see it. Their company alone, I
cannot away with; I seldom so much as touch a woman's hand; for I
think these things are not so becoming me. When I have seen good
men salute those women that they have visited, or that have visited
them, I have at times made my objection against it; and when they
have answered, that it was but a piece of civility, I have told
them, it is not a comely sight. Some indeed have urged the holy
kiss; but then I have asked why they made baulks? why they did
salute the most handsome, and let the ill-favoured go? Thus, how
laudable soever such things have been in the eyes of others, they
have been unseemly in my sight.

316. And now for a wind-up in this matter, I calling not only men,
but angels, to prove me guilty of having carnally to do with any
woman save my wife: nor am I afraid to do it a second time;
knowing that it cannot offend the Lord in such a case, to call God
for a record upon my soul, that in these things I am innocent. Not
that I have been thus kept, because of any goodness in me, more
than any other; but God has been merciful to me, and has kept me;
to whom I pray that He will keep me still, not only from this, but
every evil way and work, and preserve me to His heavenly kingdom.

317. Now as Satan laboured by reproaches and slanders, to make me
vile among my countrymen; that, if possible, my preaching might be
made of none effect; so there was added hereto, a long and tedious
imprisonment, that thereby I might be frightened from my service
for Christ, and the world terrified, and made afraid to hear me
preach; of which I shall in the next place give you a brief


318. Having made profession of the glorious gospel of Christ a
long time, and preached the same about five years, I was
apprehended at a meeting of good people in the country (among whom,
had they let me alone, I should have preached that day, but they
took me away from amongst them), and had me before a justice; who,
after I had offered security for my appearing at the next sessions,
yet committed me, because my sureties would not consent to be bound
that I should preach no more to the people.

319. At the sessions after I was indicted for an upholder and
maintainer of unlawful assemblies and conventicles, and for not
conforming to the national worship of the church of England; and
after some conference there with the justices, they taking my plain
dealing with them for a confession, as they termed it, of the
indictment, did sentence me to a perpetual banishment, because I
refused to conform. So being again delivered up to the jailer's
hands, I was had home to prison, and there have lain now complete
twelve years, waiting to see what God would suffer these men to do
with me.

320. In which condition I have continued with much content,
through grace, but have met with many turnings and goings upon my
heart, both from the Lord, Satan, and my own corruptions; by all
which (glory be to Jesus Christ) I have also received among many
things, much conviction, instruction, and understanding, of which
at large I shall not here discourse; only give you a hint or two, a
word that may stir up the godly to bless God, and to pray for me;
and also to take encouragement, should the case be their own--not
to fear what man can do unto them.

321. I never had in all my life so great an inlet into the word of
God as now: those scriptures that I saw nothing in before, are
made in this place and state to shine upon me; Jesus Christ also
was never more real and apparent than now; here I have seen and
felt Him indeed: Oh! that word, We have not preached unto you
cunningly devised fables, 2 Pet. i. 16, and that, God raised Christ
from the dead, and gave Him glory, that our faith and hope might be
in God 1 Pet. i. 21, were blessed words unto me in this my
imprisoned condition.

322. These three or four scriptures also have been great
refreshments in this condition to me: John xiv. 1-4; John xvi. 33;
Col. iii. 3, 4; Heb. xii. 22-24. So that sometimes when I have
been in the savour of them, I have been able to laugh at
destruction, and to fear neither the horse nor his rider. I have
had sweet sights of the forgiveness of my sins in this place, and
of my being with Jesus in another world: Oh! the mount Sion, the
heavenly Jerusalem, the innumerable company of angels, and God the
Judge of all, and the spirits of just men made perfect, and Jesus,
have been sweet unto me in this place: I have seen that here, that
I am persuaded I shall never, while in this world, be able to
express: I have seen a truth in this scripture, Whom having not
seen, ye love; in whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing,
ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. 1 Pet. i. 8.

323. I never knew what it was for God to stand by me at all turns,
and at every offer of Satan to afflict me, etc., as I have found
Him since I came in hither: for look how fears have presented
themselves, so have supports and encouragements; yea, when I have
started, even as it were, at nothing else but my shadow, yet God,
as being very tender of me, hath not suffered me to be molested,
but would with one scripture or another, strengthen me against all;
insomuch that I have often said, were it lawful, I could pray for
greater trouble, for the greater comfort's sake. Eccl. vii. 14; 2
Cor. i. 5.

324. Before I came to prison, I saw what was coming, and had
especially two considerations warm upon my heart; the first was,
how to be able to encounter death, should that be here my portion.
For the first of these, that scripture, Col. i. 11, was great
information to me, namely, to pray to God to be strengthened with
all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and
long-suffering with joyfulness. I could seldom go to prayer before
I was imprisoned; but for not so little as a year together, this
sentence, or sweet petition would, as it were, thrust itself into
my mind, and persuade me, that if ever I would go through long-
suffering, I must have all patience, especially if I would endure
it joyfully.

325. As to the second consideration, that saying (2 Cor. i. 9)
was of great use to me, But we had the sentence of death in
ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God, which
raiseth the dead. By this scripture I was made to see, That if
ever I would suffer rightly, I must first pass a sentence of death
upon every thing that can properly be called a thing of this life,
even to reckon myself, my wife, my children, my health, my
enjoyments, and all as dead to me, and myself as dead to them.

326. The second was to live upon God that is invisible, as Paul
said in another place; the way not to faint is, To look not on the
things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen; for the
things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen
are eternal. And thus I reasoned with myself, if I provide only
for a prison, then the whip comes at unawares; and so doth also the
pillory: Again, if I only provide for these, then I am not fit for
banishment. Further, if I conclude that banishment is the worst,
then if death comes, I am surprised: so that I see, the best way
to go through sufferings, is to trust in God through Christ, as
touching the world to come; and as touching this world, to count
the grave my house, to make my bed in darkness; to say to
corruption, Thou art my father, and to the worm, Thou art my mother
and sister: that is, to familiarize these things to me.

327. But notwithstanding these helps, I found myself a man and
compassed with infirmities; the parting with my wife and poor
children, hath often been to me in this place, as the pulling the
flesh from the bones, and that not only because I am somewhat too
fond of these great mercies, but also because I should have often
brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries, and wants that my
poor family was like to meet with, should I be taken from them,
especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart than all
besides: Oh! the thoughts of the hardship I thought my poor blind
one might go under, would break my heart to pieces.

328. Poor child! thought I, what sorrow art thou like to have for
thy portion in this world! Thou must be beaten, must beg, suffer
hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand calamities, though I cannot
now endure the wind should blow upon thee. But yet recalling
myself, thought I, I must venture you all with God, though it goeth
to the quick to leave you: Oh! I saw in this condition I was as a
man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and
children; yet, thought I, I must do it, I must do it: and now I
thought on those two milch kine that were to carry the ark of God
into another country, and to leave their calves behind them. 1
Sam. vi. 10-12.

329. But that which helped me in this temptation, was divers
considerations, of which, three in special here I will name, the
first was the consideration of these two scriptures, Leave thy
fatherless children, I will preserve them alive, and let thy widows
trust in me: and again, The Lord said, Verily it shall be well
with thy remnant, verily, I will cause the enemy to entreat thee
well in the time of evil, and in time of affliction. Jer. xlix.
11; xv. 11.

330. I had also this consideration, that if I should not venture
all for God, I engaged God to take care of my concernments: but if
I forsook Him and His ways, for fear of any trouble that should
come to me or mine, then I should not only falsify my profession,
but should count also that my concernments were not so sure, if
left at God's feet, whilst I stood to and for His name, as they
would be if they were under my own care, though with the denial of
the way of God. This was a smarting consideration, and as spurs
unto my flesh. That scripture also greatly helped it to fasten the
more upon me, where Christ prays against Judas, that God would
disappoint him in his selfish thoughts, which moved him to sell his
Master. Pray read it soberly: Psalm cix. 6-8, etc.

331. I had also another consideration, and that was, the dread of
the torments of hell, which I was sure they must partake of that
for fear of the cross, do shrink from their profession of Christ,
His words and laws before the sons of men: I thought also of the
glory that He had prepared for those that in faith, and love, and
patience, stood to His ways before them. These things, I say, have
helped me, when the thoughts of the misery that both myself and
mine, might for the sake of my profession be exposed to, hath lain
pinching on my mind.

332. When I have indeed conceited that I might be banished for my
profession, then I have thought of that scripture: They were
stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the
sword, they wandered about in sheep-skins, and goat-skins, being
destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy;
for all they thought they were too bad to dwell and abide amongst
them. I have also thought of that saying, the Holy Ghost
witnesseth in every city, that bonds and afflictions abide me. I
have verily thought that my soul and it have sometimes reasoned
about the sore and sad estate of a banished and exiled condition,
how they were exposed to hunger, to cold, to perils, to nakedness,
to enemies, and a thousand calamities; and at last, it may be, to
die in a ditch, like a poor and desolate sheep. But I thank God,
hitherto I have not been moved by these most delicate reasonings,
but have rather, by them, more approved my heart to God.

333. I will tell you a pretty business:- I was once above all the
rest, in a very sad and low condition for many weeks; at which time
also, I being but a young prisoner, and not acquainted with the
laws, had this lying much upon my spirits, that my imprisonment
might end at the gallows for ought that I could tell. Now
therefore Satan laid hard at me, to beat me out of heart, by
suggesting thus unto me: But how if, when you come indeed to die,
YOU should be in this condition; that is, as not to savour the
things of God, nor to have any evidence upon your soul for a better
state hereafter? (for indeed at that time all the things of God
were hid from my soul).

334. Wherefore, when I at first began to think of this, it was a
great trouble to me; for I thought with myself, that in the
condition I now was in, I was not fit to die, neither indeed did I
think I could, if I should be called to it; besides, I thought with
myself, if I should make a scrambling shift to clamber up the
ladder, yet I should either with quaking, or other symptoms of
fainting, give occasion to the enemy to reproach the way of God and
His people for their timorousness. This, therefore, lay with great
trouble upon me, for methought I was ashamed to die with a pale
face, and tottering knees, in such a cause as this.

335. Wherefore I prayed to God that He would comfort me, and give
me strength to do and suffer me what He should call me to; yet no
comfort appeared, but all continued hid: I was also at this time,
so really possessed with the thought of death, that oft I was as if
I was on a ladder with the rope about my neck; only this was some
encouragement to me; I thought I might now have an opportunity to
speak my last words to a multitude, which I thought would come to
see me die; and, thought I, if it must be so, if God will but
convert one soul by my very last words, I shall not count my life
thrown away, nor lost.

336. But yet all the things of God were kept out of my sight, and
still the tempter followed me with, But whither must you go when
you die? what will become of you? where will you be found in
another world? what evidence have you for heaven and glory, and an
inheritance among them that are sanctified? Thus was I tossed for
many weeks, and knew not what to do; at last this consideration
fell with weight upon me, that it was for the word and way of God
that I was in this condition, Wherefore I was engaged not to flinch
an hair's breadth from it.

337. I thought also, that God might choose whether He would give
me comfort now, or at the hour of death; but I might not therefore
choose whether I would hold my profession or no: I was bound, but
He was free; yea, 'twas my duty to stand to His word, whether He
would ever look upon me or save me at the last: wherefore, thought
I, save the point being thus, I am for going on, and venturing my
eternal state with Christ, whether I have comfort here or no; if
God doth not come in, thought I, I will leap off the ladder even
blindfold into eternity, sink or swim, come heaven, come hell, Lord
Jesus, if Thou wilt catch me, do; if not, I will venture for Thy

338. I was no sooner fixed in this resolution, but the word
dropped upon me, Doth Job serve God for nought? As if the accuser
had said, Lord, Job is no upright man, be serves Thee for bye-
respects: hast Thou not made an hedge about him, etc. But put
forth now Thine hand, and touch all that he hath, and, he will
curse Thee to Thy face. How now! thought I, is this the sign of an
upright soul, to desire to serve God, when all is taken from him?
Is he a godly man that will serve God for nothing, rather than give
out! Blessed be God! then I hope I have an upright heart, for I am
resolved (God giving me strength) never to deny my profession,
though I have nothing at all for my pains: and as I was thus
considering, that scripture was set before me: Psalm xliv. 12,

339. Now was my heart full of comfort; for I hoped it was sincere:
I would not have been without this trial for much; I am comforted
every time I think of it, and I hope I shall bless God for ever,
for the teaching I have had by it. Many more of the dealings
towards me I might relate, But these out of the spoils won in
battle I have dedicated to maintain the house of God. 1 Chron.
xxvi. 27.


1. Of all the temptations that ever I met with in my life, to
question the being of God, and truth of His gospel is the worst,
and the worst to be borne; when this temptation comes, it takes
away my girdle from me, and removeth the foundation from under me:
Oh! I have often thought of that word, Have your loins girt about
with truth; and of that, When the foundations are destroyed, what
can the righteous do?

2. Sometimes, when after sin committed, I have looked for sore
chastisement from the hand of God, the very next that I have had
from Him, hath been the discovery of His grace. Sometimes when I
have been comforted, I have called myself a fool for my so sinking
under trouble. And then again, when I have been cast down, I
thought I was not wise, to give such way to comfort; with such
strength and weight have both these been upon me.

3. I have wondered much at this one thing, that though God doth
visit my soul with never so blessed a discovery of Himself, yet I
have found again, that such hours have attended me afterwards, that
I have been in my spirit so filled with darkness, that I could not
so much as once conceive what that God and that comfort was, with
which I have been refreshed.

4. I have sometimes seen more in a line of the Bible, than I could
well tell how to stand under; and yet at another time, the whole
Bible hath been to me as dry as a stick; or rather, My heart hath
been so dead and dry unto it, that I could not conceive the
refreshment, though I have looked it all over.

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