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all the world, and endeavour that fome inftruction may accompany that aftonishment, which from me and my houfe hath gone out and fpread itself far and near. I will not undertake to make any phyfical ob fervations upon this unaccountable disease, nor to vindiate myfelf either from that great guilt that is charged upon me, as if I were a finner above all that dwell in this country; or from those many false and fenfelefs afperfions, that have been caft upon my behaviour, during this vifitation, much like that we read of, Mat. xxviii 13. but do freely commit myself to him that judgeth righteously, and pray with the pfalmift, Pfal. lxix. 6. Let not them that wait on thee O Lord God of Hofts be ashamed for my fake; let not those that seek thee be confounded for my fake, O God of Ifrael. Neither do I purposely undertake in this preface to reconcile the providences of the moft wife God to his promifes, or to falve that feeming difference between the words of his mouth, and the language of his hands; between which I have only fufpected fome kind of jar, but have experienced an excellent harmony. In very faithfulness haft thou afflicted me. Whence arife all those uncharitable cenfures, with which the afflicted foul is apt to charge both himself and his God too? Spring they not cer tainly from these two grand caufes, viz. a misappre→ henfion of the nature of God, and of the nature of good and evil? Let the ftudious and pious reader fearch and judge. If ever therefore you would be established in your minds in a day of affiction; (1) labour to be rightly informed concerning the na ture of God. Away with thofe low and grofs apprehenfions of God, whereby your carnal fancies do afcribe unto God fuch a kind of indulgence towards his children as you bear towards yours; which indeed no way agrees to his nature. His good will to wards his children is a folid, wife and holy difpofition, infinitely unlike to our humane affections. Soli Deo
competit, Amare Sapere. (2) Labour to be rightly informed concerning the nature of good and evil. Judge not the goodness or evilness of things by their agreeablenefs or difagreablenefs to your flefh, palate, or carnal intereft; but by the relation that they have to the fupreme good. The greateft profperity in the world is no further good, than as it tends to make us partakers of God; and the greateft affliction may thus be really good alfo. But that by the by. My defign is to juftify and glorify infinite wifdom, righte oufnefs, goodnets and holinefs before all men. Oh bleffed God! who maketh a feeming dungeon, to be indeed a wine-celler; who bringeth his poor people into a wilderness, on fet purpofe, there to fpeak comfortably to them! Be of good cheer, Q my foul! he hath taken away nothing but what he gave; and, in lieu of it, hath given thee that which thall never be taken away; the first fruits of life, instead of thofe whom the first born of death hath devoured; but, why do I fay devoured? Doth not that truly live at this day, which was truly lovely in thofe darlings? Didft thou, O my fond heart, love beauty, fweetnefs, ingenuity incarnate? And canft thou not love it still in the fountain, and enjoy it in a more immediate and compendious way? Thy body indeed cannot tafte fweetnefs in the abstract, or fee beauty except it be fubjected in matter: but canft not thou, O my foul, tafte the uncreated goodness and fweetnefs, except it be embodied, and have fome material thing to commend it to thy palate? Be ashamed that thou being a fpirit as to thy conftitution, art no more fpiritual in thy affections and operations: dost thou with fadness reflect upon thofe fweet fmiles, and that broken rhetorick with which those babes were wont to en tertain thee? (1) Confider duly what of real contentment thou haft loft in lofing thofe. For what were those things to thy real happiness? Thou haft loft nothing, but what it was no folid pleasure, nor true fe
licity to enjoy; nothing but what the moft fenfual and brutish fouls do enjoy as much as thou. (2) Be ashamed rather that thou didst enjoy them in fuch a grofs and unfpiritual manner: art thou troubled because any earthly interest is violated? Rather be afhamed that thou hadft and cherished any fuch interest.
But pardon me, courteous readers, this digreffive foliloquy; and now fuffer me patiently, whilst I speak fomething by way of admiration, fomething by way of observation, and fomething by way of exhortation.
1. Let me call upon men and angels to help me in eelebrating the infinite and almighty grace and goodnefs of the eternal and bleffed God.
Who enabled me to "abide the day of his coming," to stand when he appeared; and made me willing to fuffer him to fit as a refiner of filver in my house.
Who carried me above all murmurings against I had almost faid, all remembrance of thofe instru ments that conveyed the infection to me.
Who reconciled my heart to this disease, so that it feemed no more grievous, noifome, or fcandalous than any other.
Who fubdued me to, I had almost faid, brought me in love with this paffage of the divine will! I can remember, (alas, that I can fay little more, but that I do remember,) how my foul was overpowered, yea and almost ravifhed with the goodness, holinefs, and perfection of the will of God: and verily judged it my happiness and perfection, as well as my duty, to comply chearfully with it, and be moulded into it.
Who gave me a moft powerful and quick fenfe of the plague of a carnal heart, felf-will, and inordinate creature-loves, convincing me that thofe were infinitely worse than the plague in the flesh; fo that I did more pity, than I could be pitied by my ordinary vifitors.
Who wonderfully preferved me from the affaults of the Devil, never let him loose fo much as to try his ftrength upon my integrity, to drive me to defpondency, or to any uncharitable conclufions concerning my ftate.
Who enabled me to converfe with his love and mercy in the midst of his chaftening, to fee his fhining and fmiling face through this dark cloud; yea, kept up clear and steady perfuafions in my foul, that I was beloved of him, though afflicted by him!
Who knew my foul in adverfity, visited me when I was fick and in prifon, refreshed, ftrengthened, comforted my inward man, in a marvellous manner and measure, and made me appear to myself, never lefs fhut up, than when fhut up? Oh, would to God I might be never worse than when I was shut up of the plague! the not removing of that affliction-frame, I hall count a greater bleffing, and a more proper mercy, than the removing of that afflicted state.
Who cleared up my intereft in his Son, ftrengthened my evidences of his love, fatisfied and affured my foul of its happy ftate, more than at any time, more than at all times formerly; I had clearer and furer evidences of divine grace in that patient, felf-denying, felf-fubmitting frame of fpirit, than in all the duties that ever I performed. The valley of tears, brought me more fight of my God, more in fight into my felf, than ever the valley of vifions, all duties and ordinances had done. When the Sun of righteousness arofe upon my foul, and chased away all the mifts and foggs of felf-will, and creature loves, then alfo did all black and difmal fears, all gloomy doubtings, moit fenfibly flee before him.
Who fupplied my family from compaffionate friends, with all things needful for food, phyfic, &c. The Lord return it feven fold into their bofoms.
Who maintained my health, in the midst of ficknefs, in the midst of fo great a death! I do not rem
member that either forrow of mind, or fickness of body, ever prevailed fo much upon me, during three months feclufion, as to hinder me of my ordinary study, repaft, devotions, or my neceffary attendants, upon my feveral infected rooms, and adminiftring to the neceffities of my fick. These enfuing difcourfes were then compofed; which doth at least argue, that, through grace, this mind was not altogether difcompofed, nor body neither.
Who preferved me, and gave me not up to death! for I judge that I was perfonally vifited with the plague, though not with the fickness.
Who hath given me a fincere and settled refolution, and vehement defire to live entirely on and to himself; which I account to be the only life of a foul, and only worthy to be called a living. Grant me this prayer, O most bleffed and gracious God, for the fake of my only and dear redeemer.
Thou O Lord God, who art witnefs, to all my thoughts and words, and works, knoweft that in truth and fobernefs, I publish these things to the world, not to advance the reputation of my own filly name, or to be admired of my fellow creatures, but for the glory of thy holy name, to beget a good liking of fo gracious a creator in all thy poor creatures, who are prejudiced against thee and thy holy fervice; and to trengthen the hearts of thy fervants, to a moft firm and lafting adherence to thee, even in the greatest extremities; that thou mayeft be admired in thy faints, and glorified for giving fuch power, and grace, and comfort unto men. And, oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and his wonderful works in and to the children of men.
2. Suffer me to make a fhort obfervation of fome few memorable paffages out of many; poffibly they may be for the future, though they fhould not be for your prefent advantage; the Lord direct you to make