Of the manner of this man’s coming to God by Christ, I shall also speak a word or two.He comes as the newly awakened sinner comes, and that from the same motives and theknowledge of things. But he hath over and above (which he had as good have been without) thatwhich the newly awakened sinner has not, namely, the guilt of his backsliding,
which is a guiltof worse complexion, of a deeper dye, and of a heavier nature than is any guilt else in theworld
. He is also attended with fears and doubts that arise from other reasons andconsiderations, than do the doubts and fears of the newly awakened man; doubts built upon thevileness of his backsliding. He has also
more dreadful scriptures to consider
, and they willlook more wishfully in his face (yea, and will also make him take notice of their grim physiognomy) than has the newly awakened man. Besides, as a punishment of his backsliding,God
sometimes seems to withhold the sweet influences of his Spirit,
and is as if he would nowtake all away from him, and leave him to those lusts and idols that he left his God to follow.Swarms of his new rogueries shall haunt him in every place, and that not only in the guilt, but inthe filth and pollution of them.
None know the things that haunt the backslider’s mind
; his new sins are all turned talkingdevils, threatening devils, roaring devils, within him. Besides, he doubts of the truth of his firstconversion; consequently he has it lying upon him, as a strong suspicion, that there was nothingof truth in all his first experience; and this also adds lead to his heels, and makes him come, as tosense and feeling, more heavy, and with the greater difficulty, to God by Christ. As thefaithfulness of other men kills him, he cannot see an honest, humble, holy, faithful servant of God, but he is pierced and wounded at the heart. ‘Ay,’ says he, within himself, ‘That man fearsGod; that man hath faithfully followed God; that man, like the elect angels, has kept his place; but I am fallen from my station like a devil. That man honoreth God, edifieth the saints,convinceth the world, and condemneth them, and is become heir of righteousness which is byfaith. But I have dishonored God, stumbled and grieved saints, made the world to blaspheme,and, for aught I know, been the cause of the damnation of many.’These are the things, I say, together with many more of the same kind, that come with him, yea,they will come with him, yea, and will stare him in the face, will tell him of his baseness, andlaugh him to scorn, all the way that he is coming to God by Christ (I know what I say); and thismakes his coming to God by Christ hard and difficult to him. Besides, he thinks saints will beaware of him, will be shy of him, will be afraid to trust him, yea, will tell his Father of him, andmake intercession against him, as Elias did against Israel, or as the men did that were fellowservants with him that took his brother by the throat.Shame covereth his face all the way he comes. He doth not know what to do; the God he isreturning to is the God that he has slighted — the God before whom he has preferred the vilestlust; and he knows God knows it, and has before him his ways.
The man that has been abackslider, and is returning to God, can tell strange stories, and yet such as are very true.
No man was in the whale’s belly, and came out again alive, but backsliding and returning Jonah;consequently no man could tell how he was there, what he felt there, what he saw there, andwhat workings of heart he had when he was there, so well as he…
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