« VorigeDoorgaan »
cut no mean figure in the same establishment of which his father was a prelate ; but God came with an army of terrors, and, with a few arrows from his quiver, bent him to his bow, and made him a son of consolation, to the chosen fraternity of Christ Jesus.
By the prejudices of education he was (as well as myself) a most zealous bigot to the church of England; and, when his conscience was awakened, as he informs us, he tried her prelates, her cathedral walls, her liturgy, service book, ceremonies, and clergy, to the uttermost; and concluded, with an honest confession, that the whole of it was vanity, and, to a sinner wounded of God, vexation
He made full proof of those celebrated treatises, (which in the general meet with a inore cordial reception than the Bible), viz. The Practice of Piery, by the advice of a bishop; he went through stitch with The Whole Duty of Man, and made Baxter's Call to the Unconverted his bosom friend, and worked himself into such a conversion as that author describes. But, when God laid judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, the hail swept away these refuges of lies. Ifaiah xxviii, 17. The Practice of Piecy left him in possession of all his impiety; The Whole Duty of Man gave him up to stand or fall by his dead works; and Bax,
ter's Call left him a stranger to the heavenly calling; and no wonder, for Baxter's Call and the calls of God widely differ.
I have read what is called the life and conver, sion of many, but very few of them went so far, in what they call a work of grace, as this author, went in a state of nature. They went not in their profession far enough to know whether there was, any such thing as a spirit of bondage or no; much less to a saving conversion from bondage to liberty. But this author, when he was awakened, went such lengths in a reformation, and (as he thought) conversion also, and grew into such a confidence in it, that his excellency mounted to heaven, and his head touched the clouds. Job xx. 6. But when the commandment came, all confidence was rooted out of his tabernacle, and he was brought to the king of terrors. Job xviii. 14. As soon as the law came, not the letter only, but the whole of the law, the letter of it, the spirit of it, the bondage of it, the wrath of it, with the extensive demands of it, and the thundering curse of it (for that is the law), then sin revived, and he saw and felt the necessity of a perfect conformity to the law.
Accordingly he made it his only rule of life, not in word, but in deed and in truth; he fasted, he prayed, he worshipped, he watched, he worked, he abstained from all appearance of evil, gave all A 3
that he got to feed the poor, denied himself, and paid a strict attention to all the negative and positive parts of the law, to see what could be done by that rule; and, upon proof, found that it discovered his fin to such a dreadful degree, that the devil himself invaded him, the wrath of God
purfued him, defpair sunk him, the indignation of the Almighty drank up his fpirits, a violent inflammation seized his body, his eyes waxed dim, his taste and smelling failed him, his very hearing was affected, his bodily frame made crooked by the intolerable burden of his fins, and his ghastly countenance frightful to behold, insomuch, that carnal persons faid that evil spirits haunted him. This, he confeffed, was all that the law could do for him, and declares this to be the folly of those men who set the letter against the spirit of the law, which must never be divided, seeing truth declares, that the law genders to bondage ; therefore let no man ftrip the letter of the law from its gendering spirit. Such men as this author understand the law, and handle it lawfully. But as to such who get into a pulpit, and tell people they “ would as soon hear a perfon curse and swear as to hear them say, the law is not a rule of life," know not what they say, nor whereof they affirın. Besides, persons who belie and ridicule poor penitent finners received to mercy, and advance a notion that they never can prove, shew but very little ligns of any regard paid to the rule they contend for. Oppofing the truth,
belieing and Nandering the just, and injuring them in their reputation, and in the work of the Lord, cannot be called loving one's neighbour as one's felf. Every body knows that those that hate the just shall be desolate; anger or hatred being in God's account murder; and we know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him; therefore, such persons talking about the law, as their rule of life, is nothing but a noise, just to blind the ignorant.
When the gentleman, at whose house the gospel is preached at Peckham, brought this tract to me, desiring I would print it, saying it was one after my own heart, I could not help crying out, while I perused it, with Naomi, saying, This is a near kinsinan of mine; it is one of my next kinsmen. Thou shalt be the Coalheaver's cousin; thou art a fellow student, brought up at the same college, under the same tutor, fitted in the fame furnace, and ordained by the same bishop; thou shalt not lay among the pots, nor be a spoil for the bats; thou shalt have the wings of a dove, covered with silver, and thy feathers with yellow gold, and Ay about as in antient times, telling the daughters of Zion what God did in thy days, and in the old times before us.
In a word, we have in this narrative the repeated cries of a chofen vefsel when in infancy, childhood, and youth, and the providence of God perpetually
answering them. Secondly, we have the pharisee of the pharisees, or what is called the true churchman. Thirdly, we have the true disciple of Moses in all his performances; the sensible finner in all the agonies of the damned; and the rich displays of divine grace without the use of means. Fourthly, the noble lord his uncle, the bishop his father, and all friends, disowning him, and for ever casting him off, for turning, as they termed it, a fanatic and a fchismatic, and for becoming a diffenter of God's own making, and for worshipping God according to the spirit he received, and the truth that God applied to his soul. And lastly, we have the happy man, the real convert, and the sound christian, taking his final leave of parents, relations, and the world, and offering to die on a dunghill rather than defile his conscience, by returning to a religion that is taught by the precepts of men. If this be the work of the Lord, if this be real conversion, if this be the testimony of faith by which the deceased author yet speaketh, and if this good report be echoed from the blood of sprinkling, which in his conscience spoke better things than that of Abel; then where are legions of our preachers got, who would deny their birth, parentage, and mimic an education, in order to bring in the service book, and obtain the vestment and dignity of an established divine? which this author was purged from, by near four years discipline with the horrors of the damned. 6