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11. He hath stated me in a relation to angels, who rejoiced at my repentance, and to the heavenly society, which shall not miss the smallest part. Angeis shall not lose their joy, nor ministration.
12. He is in covenant with me; even the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He hath given me many great and precious promises, and shall I fear lest he will break his word or covenant ?
13. My Savior is the forerunner, entered into the holiest, and there appearing and interceding for me. And this after he had conquered death, and risen again to assure me of a future life, and ascended into heaven, to show us whither we must ascend; and that after these comfortable words, “Say to my brethren, I ascend to my Father, and your Father, to my God and your God.” (John, xx. 17.) And shall I not follow him through death, and trust such a Guide and Captain of my salvation ?
14. He is there to prepare a place for me, and will take me to himself. And may I not confidently expect it?
I 15. He told a malefactor on the cross, that he should be that day with him in paradise, to tell believing sinners what they may expect.
16. The church, by the article of his descent into hell, hath signified their common belief that his separated soul had its subsistence and operation, and did not sleep or perish, to tell us the immortality of separated souls.
17. His apostles, and other servants, have on earth served him with all these expectations.
18. The spirits of the perfected just are now in possession of what I hope for. And I am a follower of them who, by faith and patience, have attained the promised felicity. And may I not trust him to save me, who hath already saved millions in this way, when I could trust a ferryman to pass me over a river, that had safely passed over thousands before me? or I could trust a physician who cureth all that he undertaketh of the same disease.
19. I must be at his disposal whether I will or not. I shall live while he will, and die when he will, and go whither he will. I may sin, and vex my soul with fears, and cares, and sorrows, but I shall never prevail against his will.
20. Therefore, there is no rest for souls but in the will of God. That will created us, and that will did govern us, and that will shall be fulfilled on us. It was our efficient and our regent cause, and it shall be our end. Where else is it that we should rest? in the will of men, or angels, or in our own wills? All creatures are but creatures, and our own wills have undone us; they have misgoverned us, and they are our greatest enemies; our disease, our prison, and our death, till they are brought over to the will of God. Till then they are like a
a foot out of joint; like a child or subject in rebellion. There is no rectitude or health, no order, no peace or true felicity, but in the conformity of our wills to the will of God. And shall I die in distrustful striving against his will, and desiring to keep up my own before it?
21. What abundant experience have I had of God's fidelity and love? And after all this shall I not trust him ? His undeserved mercy gave me being; it chose my parents; it gave them a tender love to me, and desire of my good; it taught them to instruct me early in his word, and to educate me in his fear; it chose me suitable company and babitation; it gave me betimes a teachable ingeny; it chose my schoolmasters; it brought to my hands many excellent and suitable books; it gave me some profitable public teachers; it placed me in the best of lands on earth, and I think in the best of ages which that land had seen; it did early destroy all great expectations and desires of the world, teaching me to bear the yoke from my youth, and causing me rather to groan under my infirmities, than to fight with strong and potent lusts; it chastened me betimes, but did not destroy me. Great mercy hath trained me up all my days, since I was nineteen years
in the school of affliction, to keep my sluggish soul awake in the constant expectations of my change, and to kill my pride and overvaluing of this world, and to lead all my studies to the most necessary things, and as a spur to excite
soul to seriousness, and especially to save me from the supine neglect and loss of time. Oh! what unspeakable mercy hath a life of constant but gentle chastisement proved to me! It urged me, against all dull delays, to make my calling and clection sure, and to make ready my accounts, as one that must quickly give them up to
God. The face of death, and nearness of eternity, did much convince me what books to read, what studies to prefer and prosecute, what company and conversation to choose. It drove me early into the vineyard of the Lord, and taught me to preach as a dying man to dying men. It was divine love and mercy which made sacred truth so pleasant to me, that my life hath been (under all my infirmities) almost a constant recreation and delight, in its discoveries, contemplation and practical use : how happy a teacher have I had ! What excellent help, and sweet illumination! How far beyond my
! expectation hath divine mercy encouraged me in his sacred work! How congruously did he choose every place of my ministration and habitation to this day, without my own forecast or seeking! When, and where, since he first sent me forth, did I labor in vain ? How many are gone to heaven, and how many are in the way, to whom he hath blessed the word, which, in weakness I did, by his grace and providence, deliver! Many good Christians are glad of now and then an hour's time to meditate on God's word, and recreate themselves in his holy worship; but God hath allowed and called me to make it the constant business of my life. My library hath offered me both profitable and pleasant company and help, at all times, whenever I would use them. I have dwelt among the shining lights which the learned, wise, and holy men of all ages have set up, and left to illuminate the world. How many comfortable hours have I had in the society of living saints, and in the love of faithful friends. How many joyful days have I had in the solemn assemblies, where God hath been worshipped in seriousness and alacrity, by concordant (though imperfect) saints; where the spirit of Christ hath manisested his presence, by helping myself and my brethren in speaking, and the people in ready, delightful hearing, and all of us in loving and gladly receiving his doctrine, covenant, and laws. How unworthy was such a sinful worm as I (who never had any
academical helps, nor much from the mouth of any teacher), that books should become so great a blessing to me; and that, quite beyond my own intentions, God should induce or constrain me to provide any such like helps for others ! How unworthy was I to be kept from the multiplied snares of sects and errors which reigned in this age, and
to be used as a means for other men's preservation and reduction ; and to be kept in a love of unity and peace; how unworthy was I
a that God should make known to me so much of his reconciling truth, while extremes did round about prevail, and were commended to the churches by the advantage of piety on one side, and of worldly prosperity and power on the other : and that God should use me above forty years in so comfortably a work as to plead and write for love, peace, and concord, and to vouchsafe me so much success therein as he hath done, notwithstanding the general prevalency of the contentious military tribe. Mercy I have had in peace, and liberty in
. times of violence; and mercy I have had in wars, living two years in safety in a city of defence, in the very midst of the land (Coventry), and seeing no enemy while the kingdom was in wars and flames; and only hearing of the common calamities round about : and when I went abroad and saw the effects of human folly and fury, and of God's displeasure, he mercifully kept me from hurting any one, and being hurt by any; how many a time hath he preserved me by day and night, in difficulties and dangers, from the malice of Satan, and from the wrath of man, and from accidents which threatened sudden death. While I beheld the ruins of towns and countries, and the fields covered with the carcasses of the slain, I was preserved, and returned home in peace. And oh, how great was the mercy he showed me, in a teachable, tractable, peaceable, humble, unanimous people! So many in number, and so exemplary in quality ; who to
r this day keep their integrity and concord, when violence hath separated me from them above thirty years : yea, the like mercy of acceptance and success beyond my expectation, he hath showed me every where; I have had opportunity of free ministration ; even where there were many adversaries I have had an open door; in the midst of human wrath and rage he hath preserved my liberty beyond expectation, and continued my acceptance and success. When
. I might not speak by voice to any single congregation, he enabled me to speak by writing to many; and for the success of my plainest and popular writings, which cost me least, I can never be sufficiently thankful ; some of which he sent to preach abroad, in other languages, in foreign lands. When my mouth, with eighteen hundred or
two thousand more, had been many years stopped, he liath since opened them in some degree; and the sufferings intended us by men have been partly put by, and partly much alleviated, by his providence; and the hardness of our terms hath not so much hindered the success of faithful labors as we feared, and as others hoped it would have done. have had the comfort of seeing some peace and concord, and prosperity of truth and piety, kept up, under the utmost opposition of diabolical and human power, policy, and wrath. When I have been sent to the common jail for my services and obedience to him, he hath there kept me in peace, and soon delivered me. He hath made the mouths of my greatest enemies, who have studied my defamation and my ruin, to become my witnesses and compurgators, and to cross their own designs. How wonderful is it that I should so long dwell in so much peace, in the midst of those that seemed to want neither power nor skill, and much less will, to tread me down into contempt and misery! And oh! how many a danger, fear, and pain hath he delivered this frail and languishing body from ! How oft hath he succored me, when flesh, and heart, and art have failed! He hath cured my consuming coughs, and, many a time, stayed my flowing blood : he hath eased my pained limbs, and supported a weary, macerated skeleton: he hath fetched me up from the jaws of death, and reversed the sentence which men have passed on me. How many thousand weary days have been sweetened with his pleasant work; and how many thousand painful, weary nights have had a comfortable morning! How many thousand strong and healthy persons have been taken away by death, whilst I have been upheld under all this weakness! Many a time have I cried to the Lord in my trouble, and he hath delivered me out of my distress. I have had fifty years added to my days since I would have been full glad of Hezekiah's promise of fifteen. Since the day that I first preached his gospel, I expected not, of long time, to live above a year; and I have lived since then fifty years. When my own prayers were cold and unbelieving, how many hundreds have prayed for me? And what strange deliverances, encouraging fasting and prayer, have I oft had, upon their importunate requests? My friends have been faithful, and the few that proved unfaithful have profitably