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thirty were to appearance so wrought upon between ten
far as I, by looking back, can judge from the particular acquaintance I have had with souls in this work, it appears to me probable, to have been at the rate, at least of four persons in a day, or near thirty in a week, take one with another, for five or six weeks together: When God in so remarkable a manner took the work into his own hands, there was as much done in a day or two, as at ordinary times, with all endeavors that men can use, and with such a blessing as we commonly have, is done in a year. I am very sensible how apt many would be, if they should see the account I have here given, presently to think with themselves that I am very fond of making a great many converts, and of magnifying and aggrandizing the matter; and to think that, for want of judgment, I take every religious pang, and enthusiastic conceit, for saving conversion; and I do not much wonder if they should be apt to think so : And for this reason, I have forborn to publish an account of this great work of God, though I have often been put upon it; but having now as I thought a special call to give an account of it, upon mature consideration I thought it might not be beside my duty to declare this amazing work, as it appeared to me, to be indeed divine, and to conceal no part of the glory of it, leaving it with God to take care of the credit of his own work, and running the venture of any censorious thoughts, which might be entertained of me to my disadvantage. But that distant persons may be under as great advantage as may be, to judge for themselves of this matter, I would be a little more large, and particular. I therefore proceed to give an account of the manner of persons being wrought upon ; and here there is a vast variety, perhaps as manifold as the subjects of the operation; but yet in many things there is a great analogy in all. Persons are first awakened with a sense of their miserable condition by nature, the danger they are in of perishing eternally, and that it is of great importance to them that they speedily escape, and get into a better state. Those that before were secure and senseless, are made sensible how much they were in the way to ruin in their former courses. Some are
Vol. III. D
more suddenly seized with convictions; it may be, by the
There is a very great variety, as to the degree of fear and trouble that persons are exercised with, before they obtain any comfortable evidences of pardon and acceptance with God : Some are from the beginning carried on with abundantly more encouragement and hope, than others : Some have had ten times less trouble of mind than others, in whom yet the issue seems to be the same. Some have had such a sense of the displeasure of God, and the great danger they were in of damnation, that they could not sleep at nights; and many have said that when they have laid down, the thoughts of sleeping in such a condition have been frightful to them, and they have scarcely been free from terror while they have been asleep, and they have awaked with fear, heaviness, and distress still abiding on their spirits. It has been very common, that the deep and fixed concern that has been on persons minds, has had a painful influence on their bodies, and given disturbance to animal nature.
The awful apprehensions persons have had of their misery, have for the most part been increasing, the nearer they have approached to deliverance; though they often pass through many changes, and alterations in the frame and circumstances of their minds : Sometimes they think themselves wholly senseles, and fear that the spirit of God has left them, and that they are given up to judicial hardness; yet they appear very deeply exercised about that fear, and are in great earnest to obtain convictions again.
Together with those fears, and that exercise of mind which is rational, and which they have just ground for, they have of. ten suffered many needless distresses of thought, in which Satan probably has a great hand, to entangle them, and block up their way ; and sometimes the distemper of melancholy has been evidently mixed; of which, when it happens,the tempter seems to make great advantage, and puts an unhappy bar in the way of any good effect : One knows not how to deal with such persons; they turn everything that is said to them the wrong way, and most to their own disadvantage : And there is nothing that the devil seems to make so great a handle of, as a melancholy humor, unless it be the real corruption of the heart.
But it has been very remarkable, that there has been far less of this mixture in this time of extraordinary blessing, than there was wont to be in persons under awakenings at other times; for it is evident that many that before had been exceedingly involved in such difficulties, seemed now strangely to be set at liberty: Some persons that had before for a long time, been exceedingly entangled with peculiar temptations, of one sort or other, and unprofitable and hurtful distresses, were soon helped over former stumbling blocks, that hindered any progress towards saving good ; and convictions have wrought more kindly, and they have been successfully carried on in the way to life. And thus Satan seemed to be restrained, till towards the latter end of this wonderful time, when God’s spirit was about to withdraw.
Many times persons under great awakenings were concerned, because they thought they were not awakened, but miserable, hard hearted, senseless, sottish creatures still, and sleeping upon the brink of hell ; The sense of the need they have to be awakened, and of their comparative hardness, grows upon them with their awakenings; so that they seem to themselves to be very senseless, when indeed most sensible. There have been some instances of persons that have had as great a sense of their danger and misery, as their natures could well subsist under, so that a little more would probably have destroyed them; and yet they have expresed themselves much amazed at their own insensibility and sottishness, in such an extraordinary time as it then was.
Persons are sometimes brought to the borders of despair, and it looks as black as midnight to them a little before the day dawns in their souls; some few instances there have been of persons, who have had such a sense of God's wrath for sin, that they have been overborn, and made to cry out under an astonishing sense of their guilt, wondering that God suffers such guilty wretches to live upon earth, and that he doth not immediately send them to hell ; and sometimes their guilt does so glare them in the face, that they are in exceeding terror for fear that God will instantly do it ; but more commonly the distresses under legal awakenings have not been to