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ble love and grace, so free and sovereign, to so wretched a creature, which even filled my soul with wonder and love.
But this delightful frame did not long continue, for I was soon surprised with swarms of vain thoughts, which appeared in my most . solemn approaches to God, and such violent hurries of temptation, as greatly staggered my faith, which was weak. Hereupon I was ready to give up all, and to conclude I had mocked God, and cheated my own soul; that these wandering thoughts, and this unfixedness of mind in duty, could never consist with a sincere love to the things of God. I thought my heart had been fixed, but 0! how exceeding deceitful did I then find it! which greatly distressed me, and made me conclude my sins were rather increased than mortified, insomuch that I was ready to cry out, "O wretched creature that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death!" and, in consideration of the power and prevalency of indwelling corruptions, and daily temptations which I had to grapple with, I was ready to say, "I shall one day fall by the hands of these enemies."
But these discouragements were fully removed by reading some of my father's writings, where it was observed, that a person had no reason to conclude his sins were more increased, merely because they appeared more, and became more troublesome, since this arose from the opposition they now met with, from that principle of grace which now was implanted. Hence I learned, that before the flesh reigned quietly in me, and therefore I perceived not the lusts thereof, but now all the powers and faculties of my soul were engaged against them, they gave me the greatest disturbance, and struggled more and more. Also these words were impressed on my mind with an efficacious power, 2 Cor. xii. 9. " My grace is sufficient for thee," which gave me peace in believing that it should be to me according to his word.
Thus, after many conflicts, comforts, and supports, I determined to give myself up to some church, that I might partake of the Lord's supper, and have my faith confirmed in the blood of that everlasting covenant which I hoped the Lord had made with me, since he had given me his Spirit as the earnest thereof. I accordingly was joined to a church, and in coming to this ordinance found great delight: my faith was strengthened and my love increased from that sweet communion 1 then enjoyed with my Lord by his blessed Spirit, who often filled me with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Thus I walked under the sweet and comfortable sense of his love; and whilst in the way of my duty, I was thus indulged with such sights of the Redeemer's glory, and such a tasje of his grace, I frequently wished that I might never more go back to the world again.
But after all these manifestations (O wretched creature!) God in his providence called me more into the world by changing my condition. This new relation brought new affections and new temptations, which, being too much yielded to, insensibly prevailed, and brought me into such perplexing darkness, that I want words to express it. I lost the sense of the love of God, and hence my duty was performed without that delight I had once experienced, the want of which made me often neglect it, and especially in private, while I attended on public worship with little advantage or pleasure.
The consideration of this decay in my love, and the loss of those quickening influences of the Spirit, which I used to experience in duty, increased my darkness, and I had doleful apprehensions of my state. And my inordinate love to the creature, and want of submission to the will of the Lord, in disposing of what I had so unduly set my heart on, prepared me to look for awful things in a way of judgment from the righteous God, which I afterwards found; his hand was soon laid on that very object by which I had so provoked him; for a disorder seized him, under which he long languished till it ended in his death.
This was a melancholy stroke, and more so as I saw his hand stretched out still, for 1 continued in an unsuitable temper, and without that submission which such a dispensation called for. The Lord still hid his face from me, and it is impossible to give a particular account of those perplexing thoughts and tormenting fears which filled my mind. Every thing appeared dreadfully dark, both within and without. O! were it possible to describe it to others, as I then felt it, they would dread that which will separate betweeu them and God! I expected if the Lord did return it would be in a terrible way, by some remarkable judgment or other; but oftentimes, from the frame I was in, I could see no ground to hope he would ever return at all.
But was it to me according to my dismal apprehensions and fears? Oh! no; my soul, and all that is within me, bless and adore his name, under a sense of his free and sovereign grace, who manifested himself unto thee as a God pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin. This was the title by which he manifested himself to Moses, when he caused his glory to pass before him, (Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7.) And it was in the clear apprehension, and powerful application of this by the Almighty Spirit, that I was brought to admire so greatly the free grace of God thus discovered to me in so extraordinary a manner, that it even transported my very soul with love and thankfulness beyond any thing that I had experienced in the whole of my past life.
The beginning of this wonderful alteration in my frame, was hearing the experience of one which I thought very much like my own when the Lord first began to work on my soul. I concluded that this person was the subject of a real and universal change. On this occasion I determined to consider my former experience; in doing of which I found the blessed Spirit of all grace assisting me, and witnessing to his work upon my heart, insomuch, that ere I was aware my soul was like the chariots of a willing people; I was wonderfully enlivened in duty, and enlarged in thankfulness to God for thus manifesting himself, and directing me to those means which he had so inexpressibly blessed beyond my expectation.
Thus the Lord drew me by the cords of love, and lifted up the light of his countenance upon me, so that in his light 1 saw light, which scattered that miserable cloud of darkness that had enwrapped my soul so long. Yea, he dispelled all those unbelieving thoughts which were apt to arise, on account of that low estate out of which he had newly raised me. It was suggested to me, that this was not his ordinary way of dealing with such provoking creatures as myself, but that they are usually filled with terrors, and brought down even to a view of the lowest hell, &c. Thus Satan endeavoured to hold me under believing fears, but the blessed Spirit, by taking of the things of Christ and shewing them unto me, prevailed over the temptation.
I had a discovery of the glory of the Father's love, unchangeable, free, and eternal, which was discovered in pitching on me before the foundation of the world. And the glory of the Son as proceeding from the Father, and offering a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour, and in bringing in an everlasting righteousness, which by his Spirit he enabled me to rest wholly and alone upon, as the foundation of every blessing which I have received, or he has promised for the whole of my acceptance before God, for my justification, sanctification, and full redemption. On this foundation he has enabled me stedfastly to rely, which greatly enlivens and enlarges my soul, in its addresses to the Father, through the Son, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, for pardon and strength, against those powerful corruptions which still remain in my heart.
O, the love! the infinite, condescending, and unchanging love of the Father 1 and O, that fulness of grace which is treasured up in my Redeemer, to be bestowed on me by his promised Spirit! of which so much hath already been communicated, that my soul is even overwhelmed under the sense and consideration of it! The Lord appears to me as resting in his love, and joying over me with singing, as it is expressed, Zeph. iii. 17. which scripture, with many others, has been opened and applied, as makes my approaches to him exceeding delightful. And this sense of his love lays me low in the views of my own vileness and unworthiness, and constrains me to love him, and live to him, and to give him all the glory of that change which of his own free and sovereign grace he has wrought in me. There was nothing in me to move him to this; yea, what was there not in me to provoke him to cast me off for ever? But thus it hath pleased him to magnify his grace and mercy on a creature the most unworthy of any that ever received a favour at his hands.
I know not where to end. He has recovered me from amongst the dead, and he shall have the glory of it whilst I live; yes, I will praise him, and tell of the wonders of his love to others, that so he may be honoured and none may distrust him. He has filled me with his praises, though he has not given me that natural capacity which some have been blessed with to express what I feel and find of his work on my soul. But this I can say, I have found him whom my soul loves, he hath manifested himself to me, and there is nothing I dread so much as losing sight of him again. His presence makes all his ordinances, and all his providences, and every thing delightful unto me. It is impossible to express the joy of my soul in sweet converses with him, with a sense of his love and experience of his presence, under the influences of his Spirit, whose office it is to abide with me, and to guide, direct, and comfort me for ever.
It is a sense of my duty, and a desire to follow the direction of that blessed Spirit, that I request fellowship with you of this church. Amongst you my Lord has been pleased to discover himself to me, and to make the ministry you sit under exceeding useful and comfortable to my soul; by it I have been built up and settled on the right foundation, the righteousness of Christ, that Rock that shall never be moved. Your order likewise appears to he very beautiful and lovely, being, as I apprehend, most agreeable to the rules of my Lord. Hence I desire to have communion with you, that so by your example and watchfulness over me, and the other advantages arising from church-fellowship, I may find what I expect, and earnestly desire in communion with you, namely, that I may experience fellowship with the Father, and the Son, through the eternal Spirit, whilst I wait upon him in the ways of his own appointment.
Dec. 17, 1697. REBECCA CoMBE.
This valuable christian lived to a good old age; she was confined by illness for four years before her death; during which she had large experience, and greatly valued her stated habitual seasons for converse with God, and longed much for the time when all hindrances and restraints should be for ever removed. She slept in Jesus, Nov. 20, 1744, aged 79 years, and her remains were interred in BunhillFields.
[We have inserted the above, at the particular request of the correspondent who forwarded it; and we feel much pleasure in having this opportunity of recommending to our readers, the little work from which it is selected, entitled, "An Abstract of the gracious Dealings of God, with several eminent Christians in their Conversion and Sufferings," by the late Rev. Samuel James.— Editors.]
The late Rev. S. Medley, on his dying bed, after recovering from a fit, and within half an hour of his dissolution, said, "Look up, my soul, and rejoice, for thy redemption draweth nigh—I am looking up to Jesus. But a point or two more, (alluding to the mariner's compass) and I shall be at my Father's house.—Dying is sweet work! sweet work ! my Father! my heavenly Father! I am looking up, I am looking up to my dear Jesus! my God, my portion, my all in all!" His last words were, "Glory, glory! home, home!"
THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER DELINEATED UPON EVANGELICAL PRINCIPLES.
The principles which we profess to esteem are divine, and they are always filled by God with the excellency they make known. None of the advocates of the cause of truth have added any thing to it. By it the heirs of life are preserved from innumerable evils in this world, and they are guided by it to look for an eternal and better state of existence. The design of God is to train his children by the Spirit, according to the scriptures, for that immediate intercourse with himself in heaven, unto which he hath supremely predestinated them; and all the manifold displays of his wisdom and prudence towards them, conspire to encourage the hope which he has generated in their bosoms, that they shall one day see Christ face to face. With this bright hope, the good man walks through the streets of life, and maintains the otherwise unequal conflict in which he is engaged, with the pleasing and well-grounded assurance, that he will obtain the prize which he has in view, and reach the summit of perfection that the Lord lias prepared for him. Patience, that long-enduring grace, labours in harmony with love and faith, and waits with assurance, that every thing needful for this life, will be given to him to keep alive his soul, and to preserve him in the path of duty, until the day of complete redemption from the being of sin shall arrive. We now are smitten with the grace displayed by God to us, when he is graciously pleased to take from us every hurtful thing, to make way for the clear manifestations of his love, and more abundant communications of his mercy to us.
Divine grace reigning through the righteousness of Jesus Christ to eternal life, will lead to a consideration of what we are redeemed from, and what we are also to possess. We are favoured to find access to the throne of grace, through the perfect salvation of Messiah, and we gladly rejoice that divine justice was satisfied by him in that work which he finished when he died. Because, when Jesus appeared there, he was not there alone, but all his members were secretly in him upon that solemn day. When the eternal Spirit reveals to the mind that Immanuel has procured for his brethren salvation from the dominion and guilt of sin, it has a transforming influence, and begets unfeigned gratitude to him for his unequalled friendship. Contemplating the memorable transactions of Christ's life, as they are revealed in the scriptures, the christian has fellowship with him in his sufferings. He will also find, that spiritually musing upon subjects of such vast and endless consequence, will draw his heart
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