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therefore to your felf; and be not too much dejected with the wicked folicitations of a known enemy: For the redrefle whereof (as I have not been unacquainted with the like caufes of complaints) let me prefcribe you a double remedy;Refolution, and Prayer.
In the first place take up ftrong refolutions not to give heed or care to thefe unreasonable motions;refolve rather to icorne and contemn them upon their first intimation, as not worthy of a particular anfwer; For certainly holding chat with them and fad agitations, and arguing of them, as thoughts meet to receive a fatisfaction, drawes on their more troublefome importunity; whereas if they were fleighted, and disdainfully turn'd off upon their firft glimpfe, they would go away afhamed. Whenfoever therefore any fuch fuggeftions offer themselves unto you, think with your felf: Iknow whence this comes, it is Satans; let him take it whose it is, I will not meddle with it; fay but in your Saviours words, Avoid Satan; and divert your thoughts to fome holy and profitable subject, and thefe temptations will by Gods grace foon vanith.
In the fecond place, apply your felf to the remedy of that chofen Veffel, who when he was buffeted by the meffenger of Satan, had recourse to the throne of Grace, and befought God thrife, (that is frequently) that he might depart away from him: Whenfoever you thall be thus troubled, do you by a fuddain ejaculation raise up your heart to God; and befeech him to rebuke that evil one, and do not fo much care to answer the Temptation, as to implore the aid of him, who can take off the tempter at pleasure; who hath an hook in the noftrils of that Leviathan. Certainly thofe evil thoughts cannot be more swift-winged then our prayers may be, nor fo prevalent to our vexation as our prayers fhall be for our rescue. Be therefore fervent and affidious in them, and my foul for yours the enemy fhall have no power to harme you. As for your doubt of receiving the bleffed Sacrament because of thefe mifconceived blasphemies, it falls alone by what I have already faid; The blafphemies (if they were fuch) are Satans not yours; Why fhould you not do your felf good, because he would do you a mischief: In Gods name go on to defie that evil one; and let him take his wickedneffe to him/elf; and do you go with cheerfullneffe and good courage to that Holy Table as there and thence expecting to receive new ftrength against all his affaults: Nei
ther doubt I but that our good God will fo bleffe unto you this inftitution of his own, together with your prayers and Refolutions, that you fhall be foon and fully freed from the fe hatefull guests; and Comfortably injoy him and Your felf which I fhall alfo gladly fecond with my prayers for you (though unknown) as who am
Exon. April 14
Your truly Compassionate
and well-wifbing Friend in Chrift
T is not for me to examine the Grounds of your affliction, which as they fhall come to be scanned by greater judgments, fo in the mean time have doubtleffe received both a Verdict and fentence from your own heart: and if this act were in my power I can much better fuffer with my Friend then judge him. But however either partial or rigorous the conceits of others may be, be fure I beseech you that you receive from your own bolome a free and juft doom on all your actions; after all the cenfures of others, thence muft proceed either your peace or torment: But what do I undertake to teach him that is already in the School of God and under that divine ferule bath learned more then by all the Theorical counfels of profperity. Surely I cannot but profeffe that I know not whether I were more forry for the defert of your durance, or glad of fuch fruit thereof as mine eyes end ears witneffed from you. But one Sabaoth is paft fince my meditations were occafioned to fixe themselves upon the gain which Gods children make of their fins,the practife whereof I rejoyced to fee conconcurr in you with my fpeculation; and indeed it is one of the wonders of Gods mercy and providence that thofe wounds wherewith Satan hopes to kill the Soul,through the wife and gratious ordination of God, ferve to heal it.
We faint Souldiers fhould never not for the indignation at our foil. lurk fecretly in a corner of the Soul
fight fo valliantly, if it were There are corruptions that may unknown,unfeen'; till the fhame
of a notorious evil fend us to fearch and ranfacke; if but a spot light upon our cloke we regard it not, but if through our neglect or the violence of a blast it fall into the mire, then we wash and scoure it.
As we ufe therefore to say there cannot be better phyfick to a cholerick body then a seasonable Ague, fo may I lay fafely there can be nothing fo advantageous to a fecure heart, as to be finfick; for hereby he who before fel in overpleafing himself, begins to displease himself at his fall: Fire never afcends fo high as when it is beaten back with a cool blaft: Water that runs in a smooth level with an infenfible declination (though an heavy body) yet if it fall low it rifes high again: Much forgiven caufeth much love; neither had the penitent made an ewer of her eyes, and a towel of her hair for Chrifts feet if she had not found her felf more faulty then her neighbours: Had not Peter thrice denyed, he had not been graced with that threefold queftion of his Saviours love; it is an harsh but a true word,Gods Children have cause to bleffe him for nothing more thenfor their fins: If that all-wife providence have thought good to raife up even your forgotten fins in your face to fhame you before men, there cannot be a greater argument of his mercy ;This blushing thall avoid eternal confufion: Envy not at the felicity of the clofely or gloriously guilty; who have at once firm foreheads, and foul bofomes; vaunting therefore of their innocence because they can have no accufers, like wicked harlots who because they were delivered without a midwife, and have made away their ftolen birth, go currant ftill for maids; nothing can be more miferable then a finners profperity; this argues him bound over in Gods juft decree to an everlafting vengeance, wo be to them that laugh here, for they shall weep and gnash: Happy is that fhame that fhall end in glory.
And if the wifdome of that juft judge of the world (hall think fit to ftrip you of your worldly wealth and outward eftate, acknowledg his mercy and your gain in this lofs; he faw this camels bunch kept you out of the needles eye; he faw thefe bels too heavy for that high flight to which he intended you; now fhall you begin to be truely rich when you can injoy the poffeffior of Heaven and Earth; when these base rivals are fhut out of doors God fhall have your whole heart; who were not himself,if he were not all-fufficient.
Neither let it lye too heavy upon your heart that your hopefull Sons fhall inherit nothing from you bur fhame and dishonour; why Bbb
are you injurious to your felf and thofe you love, your repentance fhall feoffe upon them more bleffings then your fin hath loft; let pofterity fay they were the fons of a penitent Father; this ftain is wafht off with your tears and their vertue: and for their provision, (if the worst fall) The Earth is the Lords and the fulness thereof, imagine them born tonothing; we that are more Rich in Children then eftate hope well of thofe veffels whom we can put forth wel rigged,& well balla'ft though not wealthy laden:How fenfibly do you now find that wealth doth not confift in getting much, but well; and that contentment doth not lye in the cofer but in the breaft; laftly that all treasures are droffe to a good conscience.
For your felf; If you be pent up within four wals, and barred both of Sun and Men; make God yours and you cannot complain of reftraint, or folitude: No prifon is too ftraight for his presence; Heaven it felf would be a prifon without him; your ferious repentance may win that Society which makes the very Angels bleffed; this is the way to make him your comforter, your companion, in whose prefence is the fulness of joy.
Shortly, let your thoughts be altogether fuch as may befeem a man not unwillingly weaned from this world, and careful only to speed happily in another; We your poor friends can answer the kinde refpects of your profperity no otherwife then with our prayers for the beft ufe of your affliction; which fhall not be wanting from your true and forrowful wel-willer