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God hides himself from the house of Jacob, though dear to him." One asked her in what manner faith was given to her.
Sbe replied, * At first I saw clearly Cbrist was crucified for my sins; for it was neither Judas, nor Pilate, nor Herod, nor any other, so much as my sins; that He was the scape-goat that bore all my sins away into the wil
rness of forgetfulness, never to be remembered any more. not tell how great my misery was; neither can I tell the greatness of the mercy
of a full “Christ coming to such an empty creature as I, who was as Ephraim, an untamed heifer, unaccustomed to the yoke. Then his name was proclaimed to me as a Saviour to save sinners; merciful, gracious, long-suffering, abounding in goodness and in truth, to fulfil all that mercy and goodness; and he is the way to the Father. Ah! that he should love such a one, and marry such a one, who was a murmurer, disobedient, and unholy. Such a one God was pleased to make an object of mercy. There is an end of my misery, though I thought there was no end to it; but there is no end of his mercy. My misery was the misery of a creature, but his mercy is the mercy of a God, and there is no end of it. I was brought as low as the lowest hell; the gates were open to receive me; and O, that then mercy should come to shut them! that Christ should come to fetch me out! He is good, and doth good, not to them that are good, but he makes good; neither does he fill them that are full, but them that are empty. I will leave in them an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord.' It is those that are afflicted and poor that shall trust in his name. And what is his name, but ‘forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin? I made thee rest from thy hard bondage, wherein thou wast made to serve.' (Isa. xiv. 3.) Hard bondage! and made to serve this hard bondage! Yet God delivered when none else could. The Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel.' I had no will nor desire toward Him, nothing but perverseness and wretchedness, as in Israel. I might speak and speak a long time, for days, and weeks, and months, and not be able to tell all my misery. The Lord loved me and he chastened me. As he saith to Isaodicea, “As many as I love I rebuke and chasten.' The prodigal, whilst he was in his sin and misery, could not say it was best for him; but how did his father and friends rejoice afterwards ! I desire that all the saints might rejoice as much for me as they did for him. Christ came to seek and to save them that were lost.' I found it so. I read, . God is good to them that are
heart," and I was troubled at it, for mine was not pure, but he makes it pure. When I read, I read the promises over and over, but I could remember nothing of them ; but if I read but a tittle of the judgments, that remained with me, and I could remember the verse in which it was contained. At last the promises terrified me most of all, because they were for others but not for me. None could burst these brazen gates but Christ alone. I was worse than a beast. Beasts praise God in their kind, but I dishonoured him. Yet all this hindered not his love to me. O the sad temptations and corruptions that deluded me! never any were in the like. I never read
nor heard of any such as mine. But the Lord came in an acceptable time to succour me. When I saw that I got no good by good people speaking to me, nor by their prayers for me, nor by all my reading nor hearing, I felt such_horror, that I thought hell to come could not be worse than what I then felt. As I rode to Shrewsbury I would not hold the bridle, but let the horse go where he would, and gladly allowed him to stumble, that I might be thrown into a ditch and be killed.” (She, in consequence, was thrown into a ditch, and when she came to the inn, though very wet, she would not change or dry her clothes, but sat in the yet clothes, as she was weary of life, and desirous of ending it.) “I would not eat. I saw nothing but condemnation; and as I went along I thought, every step, that the earth would open and swallow me up. The greater my misery, the more is his mercy manifested. One moment of his mercy swallowed up the depth of my misery. Before I could not eat or drink, but I was troubled for it. I thought it was to me as to some at sacrament, that I did eat and drink
damnation. Did Christ die for the obedient or for the disobedient ? Christ died for the disobedient and rebellious, that they might partake of his obedience. He died for those Romans, not when they were righteous; but while they were yet sinners, and ungodly, and enemies, Christ laid down his life for them. And what obedience was there in such? Can you say God will not give you obedience? I warrant you their disobedience went abroad first, before their obedience.”
On May 12 an afflicted woman called to see her and said, “I have cursed thoughts of God continually. About nine months ago, when my husband was dead, the thought came to my mind, "What is become of his soul? and what will become of me, who have made him worse by my perverse words to him when he was faulty ?' and one morning, when I awoke, I thought the room was full of smoke, and suddenly a fire went in at my mouth, and went down hot into my belly, and there it went flutter, flutter. Then I suddenly flew out of my bed into the midst of the room, and a voice said within me, Thou art damned, damned. I felt the smell of brimstone. Thus it began, and I thought the house was full of devils.' Then, for six or seven weeks together, I never slept at all, I was so terrified, and I have been out of hopes ever since.”
Sarah. Jesus Christ came to dispossess the strong man armed, that kept the house, and to possess it himself. The Lion of the tribe of Judah hath overcome that roaring lion that seeks to devour you.
Woman. I can see nothing but damnation.
Sarah. I could see nothing but hell and wrath. I was as desperate as ever any was.
I said I cared not whether I had mercy or not. I felt myself, soul and body, already in fire and brimstone. If all the fire and brimstone in London, and all the pitch and tar could be heaped into one fire, and I was walking in the midst of it, that would be just my condition at that time. I beheld myself in hell locally, so great was my terror. And I thought there was no other hell but that which I felt, and therefore I sought to make myself away, and attempted it in many ways. But God hath made me
see my sin therein, and to be ashamed; and mine iniquity, and to be confounded. Yet then I could wait no longer, and I said, “If God will not save me, let him condemn me;" and I was afterwards terrified that I had said so. But were God's thoughts as my thoughts ? were his thoughts ill towards me because I thought so ? Nay, God's thoughts were not my thoughts. God could withhold possession and temptation if he would, but he sees that it is for his glory, and for your good, that you might love bim the more, and that his glory might be seen the more in your deliverance. It is Christ's work to dispossess where the strong man armed keeps the house. He does not dispossess the soul that was not possessed, but the soul that was possessed-possessed with sin, and Satan, and corruption, that such should be brought from the captivity of Satan to the glorious liberty of the sons of God. And then shall you see that this was good for you; for all things are for good to them that love God. I say not that you, of yourself, can love God; but he will give you a heart to love him.
Woman. I have no evidence that ever he showed that mercy toward me.
Sarah. He will show mercy, that he may be feared. He will show mercy to sinners; and are not you a sinner, and ungodly ?
Woman. But not to me; I cannot believe it.
Sarah. You cannot believe it; neither could I believe that he died for me. Paul saith, “I was a blasphemer, a persecutor, injurious, yet I obtained njercy, to be a pattern to others." Had you seen the condition that I was in as I saw it, you would believe. He might as soon show mercy to you as to me, and sooner too by far.
Woman. I was and still am of a perverse spirit.
Sarah. He sees that you are so, and he heals such. None can heal but Christ; he is the Physician that freely heals the chief of sinners. Put all sins into one, unbelief is the greatest, and Christ died for that sin; and it is Christ's office to give faith to one that hath no faith, to a heart full of nothing but sin, corruption, and unbelief, till Christ gives it to believe.
On May 16, she being still very weak in bed, she had another conference with one that came to see her, who was in deep despair. The woman being asked how it was with her, she replied, " I have slipt my time.
time.” She had formerly told her more of her sad condition by sin.
Sarah. Was it God's time to have done it, then who could hinder him? “ Thou bast not called on me, O Jacob! but thou bast been weary
me, O Israel! thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities." But was their time past? Nay, the very next verse says, “ ), even I, am be that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake;" not for thine, be thou ashamed; but “ for mine own sake.” (Isa. xlii. 24, 25.). Again : “ The house of Israel and the house of Judah have belied ihe Lord, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us." (Jer. 11, 12.) Yet Judah shall be saved, and Christ shall be the Lord their righteousness. (Jer. xxiii. 6.) For four
years together I have been in as sad a condition as you can be in ; and at last I grew sadder and sadder still, till I came even to the brink of hell, bell's gates being wide open, and sin and destruction holding them open; but then came Christ with his arms wide open for me,
and pulled me thence. Woman. There is no mercy for one in my condition.
Sarah. I did not then apprehend there was any mercy for me. I never met with any, so continued as I was. I reasoned with God, and asked him why he had made me to damn me, and why he had made the devil. Of late I thonght that if I made away with myself there would be an end of my misery, and I believed that there was no God, no heaven, and no hell but what I had already. In this state I have been ever since a month or six weeks before Christmas, as it is called. I could not believe God or the Scriptures. (I have judged myself for these evils.) But I see that nothing is too bard for God, who yet saves me. (Jer. xxxii. 17.) There is no sin greater than unbelief, yet Christ died for this also. Did not Christ his own disciples, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe ?” They were slow to believe, and yet Christ died for them, and was not slow to give them faith to believe. Whatever we suffer in temptation, Christ suffered, for he was tempted, that he might partake of our sufferings. Ought not Christ to suffer and to enter into glory? It was Christ's way to glory. And are not you slow of heart to believe that you must suffer many things, and then enter into glory? When they knew Christ, then he vanished out of their sight, that they might the more desire him; and they went speedily to Jerusalem and told of him. And when Christ came again to them they were afraid, and thought it was not him, but a delusion. (Luke xxiv. 25, 31, 37.) So when Christ comes to your soul, you will then fear that it is not Christ, but only a delusion. It was the disciples' condition before it was yours, those who lay in the bosom of Christ continually.
Woman. These are great works for some.
Sarah. Who doth Christ work upon but on stony hearts ? His word is a fire and a hammer, to break and to melt hard hearts; and he will give them a heart to fear him, and they shall not depart from him for ever.
(Jer. xxiii. 29; xxxii. 40.) Woman. I have no good at all.
Sarah. What if you had all the excellencies of wisdom, and gifts, and deeds? what were all this without the loving-kindness of God ? And God delights in showing mercy and loving-kindness. (1 Cor. xiii. 1; Micah vii. 18.)
Woman. God hath forsaken me.
Sarah. “ Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God." And what was Judah? Treacherous, backsliding, idolatrous, and what not. They played the harlot with many, and feared not God's judgments; committed adultery, and turned io God feignedly. Yet Judab is not forsaken of his God, though he said he was forsaken, and bis wound incurable. God, for his own name's sake, bath taken
away his sins for ever, and will remember them no more. He will remember his own free love. This is his own work, and this he delights in: “He loved us, and washed us in his own blood.” That is the fountain where the saints wash their robes. “For my people have committed two evils; (my people! two evils !) they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, (their own righteousness they would look on, and so do you,) broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” This was like Adam's fig leaves, which would only cover part of his nakedness. But the clothing that God made will cover all. His fountain of living waters is sufficient; and though they digged their cisterns, yet he sets open this fountain for them. Say not as they said, “My wound is incurable," and refuse to be comforted. No physician can heal such as are ineurable, and that refuse healing; but God has balm in Gilead, and has healing there, and he pours in wine and oil, and heals those who said their wound was incurable, and refused to be healed. (Jer. xv. 18.) It is the outcasts of Israel that the Lord gathereth together and healeth. What think you of such a soul that refuseth to be comforted ?
Woman. My heart quarrels against God.
"Sarah. Who is otherwise by nature ? But what will a father do to his froward child, who quarrels against its father? “ As a father pitieth his child that is distempered, so the Lord pitieth such.” The Lord is more abundant in love and goodness to such souls as the children of Israel, who were murmurers and backsliders, who called not on him, but were weary of him; as Ephraim, who fed on lies, and was unaccustomed to the yoke; yet God's bowels were turned within him for Ephraim, and he would not destroy him: "For I am God and not man.” Man, in his natural condition, is cruel to them that wrong him, and cannot forgive and be kind to such; but he is God and not man. (Jer. xxxi. 18, 20; Hos. xi. 8, 9.) She being weak and spent, as a farewell she requested the woman to remember the last two verses of Jeremiah xlvi.:.“ Fear not thou, O my servant Jacob!” Jacob sinned, and feared; but the Lord said unto him, “ Fear not thou, my servant Jacob; for, behold, I will save thee from afar off.” Thou art asar off, yet, “Behold, I will save thee." Thou art in captivity and in bondage: “I will deliver thee." “Thou shalt return, and none shall make thee afraid." He saith not, no man shall make thee afraid, but none ; neither man, nor sin, nor Satan. “ Fear not, for I am with thee.” Did Jacob think so ? No. Yet then God was with him. “I will make a full end of all the nations (their enemies; so he will make an end of all thine enemies, thy sins, and corruptions, and Satan); but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure.” God will measure out what affliction, and in what manner, and for how long, as for ten days, and it shall not exceed; but he will make thee able to bear it. O earth, earth, hear the word! Man is a lump of earth, and cannot hear more than earth, till He causes him to hear. (Jer. xxii. 29.)
(To be continued.)