Living Testimonies




I MUCH doubt whether my writing to you will answer any good purpose. Your time is precious, and to attend to the prating of a fool that is now fallen, will be only wasting it. My mind is at seasons almost distracted, seeking rest and finding none.. If the house is apparently, swept and garnished, yet a secret lust may be concealed in some closet, which at last, will make its appearance when the eye of justice begins to stare conscience in the face. Then the secreted devils will come out of their holes, and appear in the light of God's countenance as so many terrible sins, ready to tear the poor distracted soul into a thousand pieces. Then the hypocrite in Zion is roused, and begins to cry, " Who shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" This I am much afraid is my case. The Lord hath detected me. But, oh! is it not too late?. Wherefore was I left so long, and to run such lengths, if I belonged to him? And how is it that I am not now delivered when brought to a sense of my misery, if he means my salvation? But how dare I ask such impious questions? He might have sent me to hell long ago. Yet many such are in my heart, and I think often on my tongue; and, if the Lord' does not keep my mouth as it were with a bridle, far worse will come forth one day or other.

Never before did God suffer such an abominable wretch to live on his earth; especially when I consider what a place I presumed to occupy in his house! I had once some small measure of natural and acquired abilities, and from these my passions were often moved and elevated, which I fondly called the love of God. I had an insight of the scheme of salvation according to the letter of scripture, which I thought to be faith. I preached the doctrines of grace very high, and this I called the work of an evangelist. But now all seems to be taken from me, and given to them that have, Matt. xxv. 28. I have neither abilities, judgment, recollection, nor memory, left me. My outward frame is amazingly shattered, and I am persuaded, if the Lord does not soon appear, that I shall lose my rationality. I have some remembrance of what you said in one of your sermons, that, When the soul is put into the fire, he will find that neither his strength, wisdom, or knowledge, will avail him; all will be burnt up.' Those two sermons much supported me for a short season, as I thought my experience was exhibited in them more minutely than I in my present state can possibly describe it; but it soon went off. I am often much supported when I conceive that I have found my path and experience in Job, David, or Jeremiah; but soon I begin to consider there is some similarity between a hypocrite roused and a saint in distress.

If for a day or two I have the comfort of hope, I soon find myself again in a quiet, indifferent, state of mind, neither delivered nor distressed. Then I begin to seek for my burden, knowing that it was not rightly lost; for I had rather live and die under it, intolerable as it is, than lose it without knowing what has taken it away: but when it comes again I am ready to cry, let me be rid of it on any account, let me have my life comfortable here if I must go to hell at last.

One morning, as I first awoke, the passage in the 18th psalm, verse 16, came to my mind, "He sent from above," &c.; but it was soon wrenched out of my hands; and, as it brought neither power nor comfort with it, I concluded it was not sent of God, though I found it very suitable: yet it was not verified, for I am not drawn out. When I think of praying, the suggestion comes that God will not hear nor deliver me, though he can; and then bitter curses rise up. The devil spews him as a tyrant who will neither give me liberty, nor suffer me to run from his service: and my distraction has often brought me to conclude and say, that it is the last time I shall ever enter a pulpit. Sometimes I think of riding away as far as my horse can carry me, and there to wander in some unknown country till I die! At these times I am sure to find liberty to preach. I have noticed this often of late; but soon after this I sink lower than ever, and the next time I shall be stammering till I see the people are tired and disgusted. I could wish for, some lawful way of getting a livelihood without preaching at all.

I cannot meet with a man, among all the professors, that knows this perilous path, which has made me to conclude often that I am lost. Many of my friends, and those too who seem to be clear in the gospel, turn their backs upon me: this distresses me sorely. If Providence had not brought your writings to my hands, I believe I should have run distracted ere now. I bless the Lord for them. Indeed he has taught you to minister a word in due season to the tried soul. Every book that I have yet read has either wounded or supported me. Perceiving your readiness to assist the distressed, encourages me to write. If the Lord should lay my case on your heart, and give you a word to communicate, I trust I shall be thankful to him, and ever remain,

Your very sincere and affectionate friend,