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such a degree. In some these terrors do not seem to be so sharp, when near comfort, as before ; their convictions have not seemed to work so much that way, but they seem to be led further down into their own hearts, to a further sense of their own universal depravity, and deadness in sin.

The corruption of the heart has discovered itself in various exercises in the time of legal convictions; sometimes it ap-. pears in a great struggle, like something roused by an enemy, and Satan the old inhabitant seems to exert himself, like a serpent disturbed and enraged. Many in such circumstances, have felt a great spirit of envy, towards the godly, especially towards those that are thought to have been lately converted, and most of all towards acquaintances and companions, when they are thought to be converted : Indeed some have felt many heart risings against God, and murmurings at his ways of dealing with mankind, and his dealings with themselves in particular. It has been much insisted on, both in public and private, that persons should have the utmost dread of such envious thoughts, which, if allowed, tend exceedingly to quench the spirit of God, if not to provoke him finally to forsake them. And when such a spirit has much prevailed, and persons have not so earnestly strove against it as they ought to have done, it has seemed to be exceedingly to the hinderance of the good of their souls : But in some other instances, where persons have been much terrified at the sight of such wickedness in their hearts, God has brought good to them out of evil ; and made it a means of convincing them of their own desperate sinfulness, and bringing them off from all self confidence.

The drift of the spirit of God in his legal strivings with per- . sons, has seemed most evidently to be, to make way for, and to bring to, a conviction of their absolute dependence on his sovereign power and grace, and universal necessity of a mer diator, by leading them more and more to a sense of their exceeding wickedness, and guiltiness in his sight; the pollution, and insufficiency of their own righteousness, that they can in no wise help themselves, and that God would be wholly just and righteous in rejecting them, and all that they do, and in casting them off for ever : Though there be a vast variety, as

to the manner, and distinctness of persons' convictions of these things.

As they are gradually more and more convinced of the corruption and wickedness of their hearts, they seem to themselves to grow worse and worse, harder and blinder, and more desperately wicked, instead of growing better ; They are ready to be discouraged by it, and oftentimes never think themselves so far off from good, as when they are nearest. Under the sense which the spirit of God gives them of their sinfulness, they often think that they differ from all others; their hearts are ready to sink with the thought, that they are the worst of all, and that none ever obtained mercy that were so wicked as they.

When awakenings first begin, their consciences are commonly most exercised about their outward vicious course, or other acts of sin ; but afterwards, are much more burdened with a sense of heart sins, the dreadful corruption of their nature, their enmity against God, the pride of their hearts, their unbelief, their rejection of Christ, the stubbornness and obstinacy of their wills; and the like. In many, God makes much use of their own experience, in the course of their awakenings and endeavors after saving good, to convince them of their own vile emptiness and universal depravity.

Very often under first awakenings, when they are brought to reflect on the sin of their past lives, and have something of a terrifying sense of God's anger, they set themselves to walk more strictly, and confess their sins, and perform many religious duties, with a secret hope of appeasing God's anger, and making up for the sins they have committed : And oftentimes, at first setting out, their affections are moved, and they are full of tears, in their confessions and prayers, which they are ready to make very much of, as though they were some atonement, and had power to move correspondent affections in God too : And hence they are for a while big with expectation of what God will do for them; and conceive that they grow bet. ter apace, and shall soon be thoroughly converted. But these affections are but short lived, they quickly find that they fail, and then they think themselves to be grown worse again ;


they do not find such a prospect of being soon converted as they thought ; instead of being nearer, they seem to be farther off ; their hearts they think are grown harder, and by this means their fears of perishing greatly increase. But though they are disappointed, they renew their attempts again and again ; and still as their attempts are multiplied, se are their disappointments; all fail, they see no token of having inclined God's heart to them, they do not see that he hears their prayer at all, as they expected he would ; and some times there have been great temptations arising hence to leave off seeking, and to yield up the case. But as they are still more terrified with fears of perishing, and their former hopes of prevailing on God to be merciful to them in a great measure fail, sometimes their religious affections have turned into heart risings against God, because that he would not pity them, and seems to have little regard to their distress and pitcous cries, and to all the pains they take : They think of the mercy that God has shown to others, how soon, and how casi. ly others have obtained comfort, and those too that were worse than they, and have not labored so much as they have done, and sometimes they have had even dreadful blasphemous thoughts, in these circumstances.

But when they reflect on these wicked workings of heart against God, if their convictions are continued, and the spirit of God is not provoked utterly to forsake them, they have more distressing apprehensions of the anger of God towards those, whose hearts work after such a sinful manner about him ; and it may be have great fears that they have committed the unpardonable sin, or that God will surely never shew mercy to them that are such vipers : And are often tempted to leave off in despair.

But then perhaps, by something they read or hear of the infinite mercy of God, and allsufficiency of Christ for the chief of sinners ; they have some encouragement and hope renew ed ; but think that as yet they are not fit to come to Christ, they are so wicked that Christ will never accept of them : And then it may be they set themselves upon a new course of fruitlessendeavors in their own strength to make themselves


better, and still meet with new disappointments : They are carnest to inquire what they shall do? They do not know but there is something else to be done, in order to their obtaining converting grace, that they have never done yet. It may be they hope that they are something better than they were; but then the pleasing dream all vanishes again. If they are told that they trust too much to their own strength and righteousness, they cannot unlearn this practice all at once, and find not yet the appearance of any good, but all looks as dark as midnight to them. Thus they wander about from mountain to hill, seeking rest and finding none : When they are heat out of one refuge they fly to another, till they are, as it were, debilitated, broken, and subdued with legal humblings ; in which God gives them a conviction of their own utter helplessness and insufficiency, and discovers the true remedy in a clearer knowledge of Christ and his gospel.

When they begin to seek salvation, they are commonly profoundly ignorant of themselves; they are not sensible how blind they are, and how little they can do towards bringing themselves to see spiritual things aright, and towards putting forth gracious exercises in their own souls; they are not sensible how remote they are from love to God, and other holy dispositions, and how dead they are to sin. When they see unexpected pollution in their own hearts, they go about to wash away their own defilements, and make themselves clean ; and they weary themselves in vain, till God shews them it is in vain, and that their help is not where they have sought it, but clsewhere.

But some persons continue wandering in such a kind of labyrinth, ten times as long as others, before their own experience will convince them of their insufficiency; and so it appears not to be their own experience only, but the convincing influence of God's spirit with their experience, that attains the effect : And God has of late abundantly shown that he does not need to wait to have men convinced by long and often repeated, fruitless trials; for in multitudes of instances he has made a shorter work of it: He has so awakened and convinced persons consciences, and made them so sensible of

their exceeding great vileness, and given them such a sense of his wrath against sin, as has quickly overcome all their vain self confidence, and borne them down into the dust before a holy and righteous God.

There have been some who have not had great terrors, but have had a very quick work. Some of those that have not had so deep a conviction of these things before their conversion, have, it may be, much more of it afterwards. God has appeared far from limiting himself to any certain method in his proceedings with sinners under legal convictions. In some instances it seems easy for our reasoning powers to discern the methods of divine wisdom, in his dealings with the soul under awakenings : In others his footsteps cannot be traced, and his ways are past finding out : And some that are less distinctly wrought upon, in what is preparatory to grace, ap pear no less eminent in gracious experiences afterwards.

There is in nothing a greater difference, in different persons, than with respect to the time of their being under trouble ; some but a few days, and others for months or years. There were many in this town that had been before this efa fusion of God's spirit upon us, for years, and some for many years, concerned about their salvation ; though probably they were not thoroughly awakened, yet they were concerned to such a degree as to be very uneasy, so as to live an uns comfortable, disquieted life, and so as to continue in a way of taking considerable pains about their salvation, but had never obtained any comfortable evidence of a good estate, who now in this extraordinary time have received light; but many of them were some of the last : They first saw multitudes of others rejoicing, and with songs of deliverance in their mouths, who seemed wholly careless and at ease, and in pursuit of vanity, while they had been bowed down with solicitude about their souls ; yea, some had lived licentiously, and so continued till a little before they were converted, and grew up to a holy rejoicing in the infinite blessings God had bestowed upon them.

And whatever minister has a like occasion to deal with souls, in a flock under such circumstances, as this was in the VOL. III.


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