NOW also the tempter began afresh to mock my soul another way, saying that "Christ indeed did pity my case, and was sorry for my loss: but forasmuch as I had sinned and transgressed as I had done, he could by no means help me, nor save me from what I feared; for my sin was not of the nature of theirs for whom he bled and died, neither was it counted with those that were laid to his charge when he hung on the tree. Therefore, unless he should come down from heaven and die anew for this sin, though indeed he did greatly pity me, yet I could have no benefit of him." These things may seem ridiculous to others, even as ridiculous as they were in themselves; but to me they were most tormenting cogitations: every one of them augmented my misery, that Jesus Christ should have so much love as to pity me when yet he could not help me too; nor did I think that the reason why he could not help me was because his merits were weak, or his grace and salvation spent on others already, but because his faithfulness to his threatenings would not let him extend his mercy to me. Besides, I thought, as I have already hinted, that my sin was not within the bounds of that pardon that was wrapped up in a promise; and if not, then I knew surely that it was more easy for heaven and earth to pass away than for me to have eternal life. So that the ground of all these fears of mine did arise from a steadfast belief I had of the stability of the holy word of God, and also from my being misinformed of the nature of my sin. But Oh, how this would add to my affliction, to conceive that I should be guilty of such a sin, for which he did not die. These thoughts did so confound me, and imprison me, and tie me up from faith, that I knew not what to do. But Oh, thought I, that he would come down again! Oh that the work of man's redemption was yet to be done by Christ; how would I pray him and entreat him to count and reckon this sin among the rest for which he died. But this scripture would strike me down as dead: "Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him." Rom. 6: 9. Thus by the strange and unusual assaults of the tempter my soul was like a broken vessel, driven as with the winds, and tossed sometimes headlong into despair; sometimes upon the covenant of works, and sometimes to wish that the new covenant and the conditions thereof might, so far as I thought myself concerned, be turned another way and changed. But in all these I was as those that jostle against the rocks, more broken, scattered, and rent.
Oh, the unthought-of imaginations, frights, fears, and terrors that are effected by a thorough application of guilt yielding to desperation! This is as the man that hath his dwelling among the tombs with the dead, who is always crying out and cutting himself with stones. Mark 5: 2-5. But, I say, all in vain; desperation will not comfort him, the old covenant will not save him. Nay, heaven and earth shall pass away before one jot or tittle of the word and law of grace will fail or be removed. This I saw, this I felt, under this I groaned; yet this advantage I got thereby, namely, a farther confirmation of the certainty of the way of salvation, and that the Scriptures were the word of God. Oh, I cannot now express what I then saw and felt of the steadiness of Jesus Christ, the Rock of man's salvation: What was done could not be undone, added to, nor altered. I saw indeed that sin might drive the soul beyond Christ, even the sin which is unpardonable; but woe to him that was so driven, for the word would shut him out.
Thus was I always sinking, whatever I did think or do. So one day I walked to a neighboring town and sat down upon a settee in the street, and fell into a very deep pause about the most fearful state my sin had brought me to; and after long musing, I lifted up my head, but methought I saw as if the sun that shineth in the heavens did grudge to give light, and as if the very stones in the street and tiles upon the houses did bend themselves against me. Methought that they all combined together to banish me out of the world. I was abhorred of them, and unfit to dwell among them, or be partaker of their benefits, because I had sinned against the Saviour. Oh, how happy now was every creature to what I was; for they stood fast and kept their station, but I was gone and lost.
Then breaking out in the bitterness of my soul, I said to my soul with a grievous sigh, How can God comfort such a wretch? I had no sooner said it but this returned upon me as an echo doth answer a voice, "This sin is not unto death" At which I was as if I had been raised out of the grave, and cried out again, Lord, how couldst thou find out such a word as this? for I was filled with admiration at the fitness and at the unexpectedness of the sentence—the fitness of the word, the rightness of the timing of it; the power and sweetness and light and glory that came with it also were marvellous to me to find. I was now for the time out of doubt as to that about which I was so much in doubt before: my fears before were that my sin was not pardonable, and so that I had no right to pray, to repent, etc.; or that if I did, it would be of no advantage or profit to me. But now, thought I, if this sin is not unto death, then it is pardonable; therefore from this I have encouragement to come to God by Christ for mercy—to consider the promise of forgiveness as that which stands with open arms to receive me as well as others. This therefore was a great easement to my mind, to wit, that my sin was pardonable—that it was not the sin unto death. 1 John 5: 16, 17. None but those that know what my trouble was by their own experience, can tell what relief came to my soul by this consideration; it was a release to me from my former bonds, and a shelter from my former storms. I seemed now to stand upon the same ground with other sinners, and to have as good right to the word and prayer as any of them.
Now, I say, I was in hopes that my sin was not unpardonable, but that there might be hope for me to obtain forgiveness. But Oh, how Satan did now lay about him for to bring me down again. But he could by no means do it, neither this day nor the most part of the next, for that sentence, "This sin is not unto death," stood like a millpost at my back; yet towards the evening of the next day I felt this word begin to leave me, and to withdraw its support from me ; and so I returned to my old fears again, but with a great deal of grudging and peevishness, for I feared the sorrow of despair; nor could my faith long retain this word. But the next day at evening, being under many fears, I went to seek the Lord, and as I prayed I cried, and my soul cried to him in these words with strong cries: "O Lord, I beseech thee show me that thou hast loved me with an everlasting love." I had no sooner said it than with sweetness this returned upon me as an echo or sounding again: "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." Jer. 31 :3. Now I went to bed in quiet; also, when awakened the next morning, it was fresh upon my soul, and I believed it. But yet the tempter left me not, for it could not be so little as a hundred times that he that day did labor to break my peace. Oh the combats and conflicts that I did then meet with. As I strove to hold by this word, that of Esau would fly in my face like lightning. I would be sometimes up and down twenty times in an hour; yet God did bear me out and keep my heart upon this word, from which I had also, for several days together, very much sweetness and comfortable hopes of pardon; for thus it was made unto me: "I loved thee while thou wast committing this sin. I loved thee before, I love thee still, and I will love thee for ever."
Yet I saw my sin most barbarous, and a filthy crime, and could not but conclude, with great shame and astonishment, that I had horribly abused the holy Son of God; wherefore I felt my soul greatly to love and pity him, and my bowels to yearn towards him, for I saw he was still my friend, and did reward me good for evil; yea, the love and affection that then did burn within me to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, did work at this time such a strong and hot desire of revenge upon myself, for the abuse I had done unto him, that, to speak as I then thought, had I a thousand gallons of blood within my veins, I could freely then have spilled it all at the command and feet of this my Lord and Saviour.
And as I was thus musing, and in my studies considering how to love the Lord, and to express my love to him, that saying came in upon me: "If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared." Psa. 130:3, 4. These were good words to me, especially the latter part thereof, to wit, that there is forgiveness with the Lord, that he might be feared—that is, as I then understood it, that he might be loved and had in reverence; for it was thus made out to me that "the great God did set so high an esteem upon the love of his poor creatures, that rather than he would go without their love, he would pardon their transgressions." And now was that word fulfilled on me, and I was also refreshed by it: "Then shalt thou remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified towards thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God." Ezek. 16 : 63.
Thus was my soul at this time, and as I then did think, for ever set at liberty from being afflicted with my former guilt and amazement. But before many weeks were gone I began to despond again, fearing lest, notwithstanding all I had enjoyed, I might be deserted and destroyed at the last; for this consideration came strong into my mind: that "whatever comfort and peace I thought I might have from the word of the promise of life, yet unless there could be found in my refreshment a concurrence and agreement with the Scriptures, let me think what I will thereof, and hold it never so fast, I should find no such thing at the end, for the Scripture cannot be broken" John 10: 35. Now began my heart again to ache and fear I might meet with disappointment at last. Wherefore I began with all seriousness to examine my former comfort, and to consider whether one that had sinned as I had done, might with confidence trust upon the faithfulness of God laid down in these words by which I had been comforted, and on which I had leaned myself.
But now were brought to my mind, "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance." "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries," Even "as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birth right. For ye know how that afterwards, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." Heb. 6: 4-6; 10: 27; 12:17.
Now was the word of the gospel forced from my soul, so that no promise or encouragement was to be found in the Bible for me; and now would that saying work upon my spirit to afflict me: "Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people." Hos. 9: 1. For I saw indeed there was cause of rejoicing for those that held to Jesus; but for me, I had cut myself off by my transgressions, and left myself neither foothold nor handhold among all the stays and props in the precious word of life. And truly I did now feel myself to sink into a gulf, as a house whose foundation is destroyed: I did liken myself in this condition unto the case of a child that was fallen into a mill-pit, who, though it could make some shift to scramble and sprawl in the water, yet, because it could find hold neither for hand nor foot, therefore at last it must die in that condition. So soon as this fresh assault had fastened on my soul, that scripture came into my heart: "This for many days;" and indeed I found it was so, for I could not be delivered nor brought to peace again until well nigh two years and a half were completely finished. Wherefore these words, though in themselves they tended to no discouragement, yet to me, who feared this condition would be eternal, they were at some times as a help and a refreshment to me: for, thought I, many days are not for ever—many days will have an end; therefore, seeing I was to be afflicted not a few, but many days, yet I was glad it was but for many days. Thus, I say, I would recall myself sometimes, and give myself a help; for as soon as ever the word came into my mind, at first I knew my trouble would be long; yet this would be but sometimes, for I could not always think on this, nor even be helped by it, though I did.
Now while the Scriptures lay before me and laid sin anew at my door, that saying in Luke 18: 1, with others, did encourage me to prayer. Then the tempter again laid at me very sore, suggesting that neither the mercy of God nor yet the blood of Christ did at all concern me, nor could they help me for my sin; therefore it was but in vain to pray. Yet, thought I, I will pray. But, said the tempter, your sin is unpardonable. Well, said I, I will pray. It is to no boot, said he. Yet, said I, I will pray. So I went to prayer to God; and while I was at prayer, I uttered words to this effect: " Lord, Satan tells me that neither thy mercy nor Christ's blood is sufficient to save my soul. Lord, shall I honor thee most by believing thou wilt and canst; or him, by believing thou neither wilt nor canst? Lord, I would fain honor thee by believing thou wilt and canst." And as I was thus before the Lord, that scripture fastened on my heart, "O man, great is thy faith," even as if one had clapped me on the back as I was on my knees before God; yet I was not able to believe this, that this was a prayer of faith, till almost six months after, for I could not think that I had faith, or that there should be a word for me to act faith on; therefore I would still be as sticking in the jaws of desperation, and went mourning up and down in a sad condition.
There was nothing now that I longed for more than to be put out of doubt as to this thing in question, and as I was vehemently desiring to know if there was indeed hope for me, these words came rolling into my mind: "Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?" Psa. 77: 7-9. And all the while they ran in my mind, methought I had still this as the answer: It is a question whether he hath or no; it may be he hath not. Yea, the interrogatory seemed to me to carry in it a sure affrmation that indeed he had not, nor would so cast off, but would be favorable; that his promise doth not fail, and that he hath not forgotten to be gracious, nor would in anger shut up his tender mercy. Something also there was upon my heart at the same time, which I cannot now call to mind, with which this text did sweeten my heart, and make me conclude that his mercy might not be quite gone, nor gone for ever.
At another time I remember I was again much under this question, whether the blood of Christ was sufficient to save my soul; in which doubt I continued from morning till about seven or eight at night; and at last, when I was as it were quite worn out with fear lest it should not lay hold on me, these words did sound suddenly within my heart, "He is able." But methought this word able was spoke loud unto me; it showed a great word; it seemed to be writ in great letters, and gave such a jostle to my fear and doubt—I mean for the time it tarried with me, which was about a day—as I had never had from that all my life, either before or after. Heb. 7 : 25.
But one morning, as I was again at prayer, and trembling under the fear of this, that "no word of God could help me," that piece of a sentence darted in upon me, "My grace is sufficient." At this methought I felt some stay, as if there might be hope. But Oh, how good a thing it is for God to send his word; for about a fortnight before I was looking on this very place, and then I thought it could not come near my soul with comfort; therefore I threw down my book in a pet; then I thought it was not large enough for me; no, not large enough; but now it was as if it had arms of grace so wide that it could not only enclose me, but many more besides. By these words I was sustained, yet not without exceeding conflicts, for the space of seven or eight weeks, for my peace would be in it and out sometimes twenty times a day—comfort now, and trouble presently; peace now, and before I could go a furlong, as full of fear and guilt as ever heart could hold; and this was not only now and then, but my whole seven weeks' experience. For this about the sufficiency of grace, and that of Esau's parting with his birthright, would be like a pair of scales within my mind—sometimes one end would be uppermost, and sometimes again the other, according to which would be my peace or trouble.
Therefore I did still pray to God that he would come in with this scripture more fully on my heart, to wit, that he would help me to apply the whole sentence, for as yet I could not. What he gave me, that I gathered; but further I could not go; for as yet it only helped me to hope there might be mercy for me: " My grace is sufficient" And though it came no further, it answered my former question, to wit, that there was hope; yet, because "for thee" was left out, I was not contented, but prayed to God for that also. Wherefore one day, when I was in a meeting of God's people, full of sadness and terror, for my fears again were strong upon me, and as I was now thinking my soul was never the better, but my case most sad and fearful, these words did with great power suddenly break in upon me: My grace is sufficient for thee, my grace is sufficient for thee, my grace is sufficient for thee, three times together. And Oh, methought that every word was a mighty word unto me, as my, and grace, and sufficient, and for thee; they were then, and sometimes are still, far bigger than others be. At which time my understanding was so enlightened that I was as though I had seen the Lord Jesus look down from heaven through the tiles upon me, and direct these words unto me. This sent me mourning home; it broke my heart and filled me full of joy, and laid me low as the dust, only it stayed not long with me, I mean in this glory and refreshing comfort; yet it continued with me for several weeks, and did encourage me to hope. But as soon as that powerful operation of it was taken from my heart, that other about Esau returned upon me as before; so my soul did hang as in a pair of scales again, sometimes up, and sometimes down; now in peace, and anon again in terror.
Thus I went on for many weeks, sometimes comforted and sometimes tormented; and especially sometimes my torment would be very sore, for all those scriptures aforenamed in the Hebrews would be set before me, as the only sentences that would keep me out of heaven. Then, again, I would begin to repent that ever that thought went through me; I would also think thus with myself: "Why, how many scriptures are there against me? There are but three or four; and cannot God miss them, and save me for all of them?" Sometimes, again, I would think, "Oh, if it were not for these three or four words now, how might I be comforted." And I could hardly forbear at sometimes to wish them out of the book. Then methought I would see as if Peter and Paul and John and all the holy writers did look with scorn upon me, and hold me in derision; and as if they had said unto me, "All our words are truth, one of as much force as the other. It is not we that have cut you off, but you have cast away yourself. There is none of our sentences that you must take hold upon but these, and such as these: 'It is impossible.' 'There remains no more sacrifice for sin.' 'And it had been better for them not to have known the will of God, than after they had known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.' For 'the Scripture cannot be broken.'" Heb. 6:4; 10:26; 2 Pet. 2:21; John 10:35. These, as the elders of the city of refuge, I saw were to be the judges both of my case and me, while I stood with the avenger of blood at my heels, trembling at their gates for deliverance; also with a thousand fears and mistrusts, I feared that they would shut me out for ever. Josh. 20: 3, 4. Thus was I confounded, not knowing what to do, or how to be satisfied in this question, "whether the Scriptures could agree in the salvation of my soul." I quaked at the apostles; I knew their words were true, and that they must stand for ever.
And I remember one day, as I was in divers frames of spirit, and considering that these frames were according to the nature of several scriptures that came in upon my mind, if this of grace, then was I quiet; but if that of Esau, then tormented. Lord, thought I, if both these scriptures should meet in my heart at once, I wonder which of them would get the better of me. So methought I had a longing mind that they might both come together upon me; yea, I desired of God they might. Well, about two or three days after, so they did indeed; they bolted both upon me at a time, and did work and struggle strongly in me for a while; at last that about Esau's birthright began to wax weak and withdraw and vanish, and this about the sufficiency of grace prevailed with peace and joy. And as I was in a muse about this thing, that scripture came in upon me: "Mercy rejoiceth against judgment." Jas. 2:13. This was a wonder to me, yet truly I am apt to think it was of God; for the word of the law and wrath must give place to the word of life and grace, because, though the word of condemnation be glorious, yet the word of life and salvation doth far exceed in glory, 2 Cor. 3: 8-11; also that Moses and Elias must both vanish, and leave Christ and his saints alone.
This scripture did also most sweetly visit my soul "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." John 6: 37. Oh the comfort that I found from this word, "in no wise." As if he had said, By no means, for nothing, whatever he hath done. But Satan would greatly labor to pull this promise from me, by telling me that Christ did not mean me and such as I, but sinners of a lower rank, that had not done as I had done. But I would answer him again: "Satan, here is in these words no such exception; but him that cometh—him, any him 'him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.'" And this I well remember still, that of all the slights that Satan used to take this scripture from me, yet he never did so much as put this question "But do you come aright?" And I have thought the reason was, because he thought I knew full well what coming aright was, for I saw that to come aright was to come as I was, a vile and ungodly sinner, and so cast myself at the feet of mercy, condemning myself for sin. If ever Satan and I did strive for any word of God in all my life, it was for this good word of Christ; he at one end, and I at the other. Oh, what work we made! It was for this in John, I say, that we did so tug and strive: he pulled, and I pulled; but, God be praised, I overcame him; I got sweetness from it.
But notwithstanding all these helps and blessed words of grace, yet that of Esau's selling his birthright would still at times distress my conscience; for though I had been most sweetly comforted, and that but just before, yet when that came into my mind, it would make me fear again; I could not be quite rid thereof, it would every day be with me. Wherefore now I went another way to work, even, to consider the nature of this blasphemous thought; I mean, if I should take the words at the largest, and give them their own, natural force and scope, even every word therein. So when I had thus considered, I found that if they were fairly taken, they would amount to this: that I had freely left the Lord Jesus Christ to his choice, whether he would be my Saviour or no; for the wicked words were these: Let him go if he will. Then that scripture gave me hope: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Heb. 13:5. O Lord, said I, but I have left thee. Then it answered again, "But I will not leave thee." For this I thanked God also. Yet I was grievously afraid he would, and found it exceeding hard to trust him, seeing I had so offended him. I should have been exceeding glad that this thought had never entered my mind; for then I thought I could with more ease and freedom in abundance have leaned on his grace. I saw it was with me as it was with Joseph's brethren; the guilt of their own wickedness did often fill them with fears that their brother would at last despise them. Gen. 45: 15, 16.
Yet above all the scriptures that I yet did meet with, that in Joshua, ch. 20, was the greatest comfort to me, which speaks of the slayer that was to flee for refuge. And if the avenger of blood pursue the slayer, then they that are the elders of the city of refuge "shall not deliver him into his hands, because he smote his neighbor unwittingly, and hated him not aforetime." Josh. 20:5. Oh, blessed be God for this word. I was convinced that I was the slayer, and that the avenger of blood pursued me I felt with great terror; it only now remained that I inquire whether I have right to enter the city of refuge. So I found that he must not, "who lay in wait to shed blood." It was not the wilful murderer, but he who unwittingly did it; he who did it unawares, not out of spite, or grudge, or malice; he that shed it unwittingly; even he who did not hate his neighbor before. Wherefore I thought, verily I was the man that must enter, because I had smitten my neighbor "unwittingly, and hated him not aforetime." I hated him not aforetime; no, I prayed unto him, was tender of sinning against him; yea, and against this wicked temptation I had strove for twelve months before; yea, and also when it did pass through my heart, it did it in spite of my teeth. Wherefore I thought I had a right to enter this city; and the elders, which are the apostles, were not to deliver me up. This therefore was great comfort to me, and gave me much ground of hope.
Yet being very critical, for my smart had made me so that I knew not what ground was sure enough to bear me, I had one question that my soul did much desire to be resolved about, and that was, "whether it be possible for any soul that hath sinned the unpardonable sin, yet, after that to receive though but the least true spiritual comfort from God through Christ." The which, after I had much considered, I found the answer was, No, they could not; and that for these reasons: First, because those that have sinned that sin are debarred a share in the blood of Christ; and being shut out of that, they must needs be void of the least ground of hope, and so of spiritual comfort, "for to such there remains no more sacrifice for sin." Secondly, because they are denied a share in the promise of life: they "shall never be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come." Thirdly, the Son of God excludes them also from a share in his blessed intercession, being for ever ashamed to own them, both before his holy Father and the blessed angels in heaven. Heb. 10: 26 ; Matt. 12: 32; Mark 8: 38.
When I had with much deliberation considered of this matter, and could not but conclude that the Lord had comforted me, and that too after this my wicked sin, then methought I durst venture to come nigh unto those most fearful and terrible scriptures with which all this while I had been so greatly affrighted, and on which indeed before I durst scarce cast mine eye, yea, had much ado a hundred times to forbear wishing them out of the Bible, for I thought they would destroy me; but now, I say, I began to take some measure of encouragement to come close to them, to read them and consider them, and to weigh their scope and tendency. The which, when I began to do, I found their visage changed, for they looked not so grimly as before I thought they did. And first I came to the sixth of Hebrews, yet trembling for fear it should strike me: which, when I had considered, I found that the falling there intended was a falling quite away—that is, as I conceived, a falling from and absolute denying of the gospel, of the remission of sins by Jesus Christ; for from them the apostle begins his argument. Heb. 6: 4-6. Secondly, I found that this falling away must be openly, even in the view of the world, even so as "to put Christ to an open shame." Thirdly, I found that those he there intended were for ever shut up of God, in blindness, hardness, and impenitency. "It is impossible they should be renewed again unto repentance." By all these particulars I found, to God's everlasting praise, my sin was not the sin in this place intended.
First,I confessed I was fallen, but not fallen away, that is, from the profession of faith in Jesus unto eternal life.
Secondly, I confessed that I had put Jesus Christ to shame by my sin, but not to open shame; I did not deny him before men, nor condemn him as a fruitless one before the world.
Thirdly, nor did I find that God had shut me up, or denied me to come—though I found it hard work indeed to come—to him by sorrow and repentance. Blessed be God for unsearchable grace.
Then I considered the words in the tenth chapter of the Hebrews, and found, 1. That the wilful sin there mentioned is not every wilful sin, but that which doth throw off Christ, and then his commandments too. 2.That it must be done also openly, before two or three witnesses, to answer that of the law. Heb. 10:28. 3. This sin cannot be committed but with great despite done to the Spirit of grace—despising both the dissuasions from that sin and the persuasions to the contrary. But the Lord knows, though this my sin was devilish, yet it did not amount to these.
And as touching that in the twelfth chapter of the Hebrews, about Esau's selling his birthright, though this was that which killed me, and stood like a spear against me, yet now I did consider, 1. That his was not a hasty thought against the continual labor of his mind, but a thought consented to, and put in practice likewise, and that after some deliberation. Gen. 25:34. 2. It was a public and open action, even before his brother, if not before many more: this made his sin of a far more heinous nature than otherwise it would have been. 3. He continued to slight his birthright: he did eat and drink, and went his way; thus Esau despised his birthright: yea, twenty years after, he was found to despise it still. "And Esau said, I have enough, my brother keep that thou hast unto thyself." Gen. 33:9.
Now as touching this, that Esau sought a place of repentance, thus I thought: 1. This was not for the birthright, but the blessing; this is clear from the apostle, and is distinguished by Esau himself: he hath taken away my birthright, that is, formerly, and now he hath taken away my blessing also. Gen. 27:36. 2. Now this being thus considered, I came again to the apostle to see what might be the mind of God, in a New Testament style and sense, concerning Esau's sin; and so far as I could conceive, this was the mind of God: that the birthright signified regeneration, and the blessing the eternal inheritance; for so the apostle seems to hint: "Lest there be any profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright;" as if he should say, that shall cast off all those blessed beginnings of God that at present are upon him in order to a new birth, lest they become as Esau, even be rejected afterwards, when they should inherit the blessing. For many there are who in the day of grace and mercy despise those things which are indeed the birthright to heaven, who yet, when the deciding day appears, will cry as loud as Esau, " Lord, Lord, open to us ;" but then, as Isaac would not repent, no more will God the Father, but will say, "I have blessed these, yea, and they shall be blessed;" but as for you, "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity." Luke 13:25-27.
When I had thus considered these scriptures, and found that thus to understand them was not against, but according to other scriptures, this still added further to my encouragement and comfort, and also gave a great blow to that objection, to wit, that the Scriptures could not agree in the salvation of my soul. And now remained only the hinder part of the tempest, for the thunder was gone beyond me, only some drops did still remain that now and then would fall upon me; but because my former frights and anguish were very sore and deep, therefore it oft befell me still as it befalleth those that have been scared with fire. I thought every voice was, Fire, fire; every little touch would hurt my tender conscience.
But one day as I was passing into the field, and that too with some dashes on my conscience, fearing lest yet all was not right, suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul: Thy righteousness is in heaven. And methought, withal, I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God's right hand; there, I say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me, he wants my righteousness, for that was just before him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, "the same yesterday, today, and for ever." Heb 13: 8.
Now did my chains fall off my legs; indeed I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that from that time those dreadful scriptures of God left off to trouble me; now went I also home rejoicing for the grace and love of God. So when I came home, I looked to see if I could find that sentence, Thy righteousness is in heaven, but could find no such saying; wherefore my heart began to sink again, only that was brought to my remembrance: " Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption," 1 Cor. 1: 30: by this word I saw the other sentence true; for by this scripture I saw that the man Christ Jesus, as he is distinct from us as touching his bodily presence, so he is our righteousness and sanctification before God.
Here therefore I lived for some time very sweetly at peace with God, through Christ. Oh, methought, Christ, Christ! there was nothing but Christ that was before my eyes. I was not now only for looking upon this and the other benefits of Christ apart, as of his blood, burial, or resurrection, but considering him as a whole Christ, as he in whom all these and all other his virtues, relations, offices, and operations met together, and that he sat on the right hand of God in heaven. It was glorious to me to see his exaltation, and the worth and prevalency of all his benefits, and that because now I could look from myself to him, and would reckon that all those graces of God that now were green on me, were yet but like those cracked groats and four-pence-half-pennies that rich men carry in their purses when their gold is in their trunks at home. Oh, I saw my gold was in my trunk at home, in Christ my Lord and Saviour. Now Christ was all my righteousness, all my sanctification, and all my redemption.
Further, the Lord did also lead me into the mystery of union with the Son of God—that I was joined to him, that I was flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone; and now was that a sweet word to me in Ephes. 5: 30. By this also was my faith in him as my righteousness the more confirmed in me; for if he and I were one, then his righteousness was mine, his merits mine, his victory also mine. Now could I see myself in heaven and earth at once; in heaven by my Christ, by my head, by my righteousness and life, though on earth by my body or person. Now I saw Christ Jesus was looked upon of God, and should also be looked upon by us as that common or public person in whom all the whole body of his elect are always to be considered and reckoned; that we fulfilled the law by him, died by him, rose from the dead by him, got the victory over sin, death, the devil, and hell by him; when he died, we died; and so of his resurrection: "Thy dead men shall live; together with my dead body shall they rise," saith he. And again, "After two days he will revive us; and the third day we shall live in his sight." Isa. ch. 26; Hos. 6: 2. Which is now fulfilled by the sitting down of the Son of man on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens; according to that to the Ephesians: He "hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Ephes. 2: 6. Ah, these blessed considerations and scriptures, with many others of like nature, were in those days made to spangle in mine eye; so that I have cause to say, " Praise ye the Lord God in his sanctuary; praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts; praise him according to his excellent greatness." Psa. 150:1, 2.
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