The Kingdom of Heaven Taken by Prayer
An Account of the Author's Translation from the Kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of God.
I was desired by some friends, when I first sent an account of the dealings of God with my soul into the world, to be silent about the early part of my life, lest some should take liberty from it, and so presumptuously continue in a course of sinning. As I found the work swell in my hand, I willingly complied with their request. But I find God's bringing me forth in a more public manner raises me many enemies, who are waiting, and watching for my halting; and, as they cannot find any thing against me as a sinner saved, are obliged to dig into the old mine, and rake up what God has buried: however, I thank God that it is not in the power of man to make those wounds bleed afresh which have received a divine cure, and are kept sound by a divine physician. As these adversaries see it needful to clog the coal-hearer, and bedaub and bespatter him, lest he should run away with the garland; and as they have often been put to their shifts for matter of reproach; I have, in this fourth edition, presented them with some of the most sable traits in my life, on purpose that they may be enabled to prosecute their laudable undertaking without being constrained to utter "from the heart words of falsehood." They may from this narrative call me both a fornicator and a highway robber, which I think is as black a ground for accusation as they can wish to lay; and, when they have thus filled the lines up, I shall be found to be - the" perfection of beauty" in Christ Jesus, "without fault before the throne of God," and no less than a sinner saved among the children of men. It can afford me no pleasure to relate those things, under the guilt of which I suffered so severely; yet, as "the bitterness of death is past," by the knowledge of the pardon of them, I trust my countenance will stand; and it must stand, seeing that God is "the health of it," Psalm, xlii. 11. Some, it is true, are very fond of sullying the reputation of others, lest their own glory should suffer an eclipse; but this seldom deceives a discerning Christian; especially if he be one who is expert at discerning of spirits and reading of countenances; for it is often seen that the accuser appears, like Cain, with a fallen countenance; while the accused, like Moses, shines in the face. The countenances of professors are frequently overcast or brightened from the testimony of their consciences. Blessed be God for a sanctified cross: and more blessed for a sanctified heart; but, above all, for a sanctifying Christ!